Last updated at: (Beijing Time) Tuesday, March 18, 2003

Chinese New Premier Meets Press

China's new premier, Wen Jiabao, and four vice-premiers met the press Tuesday, shortly after the closing meeting of the First Session of the 10th National People's Congress (NPC).


Chinese New Premier Meets Press
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said Tuesday that he will spare no effort to live up to the trust and expectations of the Chinese people.

In his meeting with the press at the end of the first session of the Tenth National People's Congress, Wen first thanked NPC deputies for electing him premier.

He went on to brief the press on his family background.

Born into a family of teachers in rural China, Wen said his grandfather and parents were all teachers. His family and the primary school run by his grandfather were destroyed by war. "Sufferings in the old China can never be erased from my mind," he said, adding that he had worked in the field of geology for 25 years, mostly "under harsh conditions".

Chinese New Premier Meets Press
After going through all the hardships, he said, "I have nurtured a confidence that a person, a nation or a country can reach the glorious zenith only when they can endure all the hardships."

During the 18 years in Zhongnanhai, he recalled, he witnessed the accomplishments made by China under the leadership of Deng Xiaoping and Jiang Zemin.

China is in for a new historic period of development, he continued. "Only by adhering to the leadership of the Communist Party of China and by continuing the reform and opening-up, is it possible for China to achieve prosperity."

The new premier traveled far and wide across China and got to know the real conditions of the country and people.

As a new premier, Wen vowed to earnestly perform his powers and functions as endowed by the Constitution and make every effort to live up to the expectations of the Chinese people.

The new premier put the work of his new cabinet in a nutshell of "four phrases", namely, to "achieve one goal", "implement two key policies", "solve three major economic problems" and "promote reforms in four major aspects".

The one goal is to maintain a sustainable and comparatively rapid development of the national economy and improve people's living standards.

The two key policies are: to realize the strategic economic restructuring and continue to open up to the outside world.

The three major economic problems are: how to solve unemployment and social security system, how to increase fiscal revenue and cut public spending, and how to correct and standardize the economic order.

The "reforms in four aspects" are: the reform of the rural economy, the reform of state-owned enterprises, the reform of financial system and the reform of governmental agencies.

Wen said that rural reform covers rural taxation system, grain purchase and sales, subsidies to farmers, the rural financial system and rural medical and health service.

The premier said China will continue to regard state-owned enterprise reform as the central task of the overall economic reform, aiming at establishing a modern corporate system, and in the meantime, China will promote the reform of the system for managing state assets.

He said that while establishing and improving the financial regulation system, his government will take steps to speed up the reform of state-owned financial enterprises so as to establish a modern financial enterprise system in its true sense.

The premier laid out a number of principles necessary for achieving the above objectives.

He stressed the necessity of giving priority to the development of agriculture and rural economy, and of promoting a coordinated and well-balanced development between urban and rural areas.

He encouraged the eastern areas of China to seize the opportunities to accelerate development and renovate and revitalize old industrial bases and the western part to implement the western China development strategy.

The premier said that his government will take full advantage of the opportunities brought about by China's accession to the WTO to open wider to the outside world.

He pledged continued efforts to implement the sustainable development strategy and the strategy of developing the country by relying on science and education so as to achieve steady economic and social development.

China will strive for a proper balance among development speed, dimension of reform and social bearing capacity in order to realize the perfect integration of reform, development and stability, he added.

He listed the sluggish development of agriculture and slow increase of farmers' income as the primary problem challenging the government, saying it has become a major factor inhibiting the expansion of domestic demand.

The second problem is that some enterprises have difficulties in operation, and it will be a long-term task to build a modern corporate system in the country.

The third problem facing the government is the increasing number of laid-off workers, which has brought increasingly great pressure to bear upon social security.

On the fourth problem, Wen said, due to the unbalanced development in urban and rural areas and in the eastern and western parts of the country, a considerable number of areas and people are still struggling in poverty.

The last problem is the heavy fiscal burden and high rate of non-performing assets.

However, the premier said, with the strong material and technical foundations laid during the reform and open-up over the past more than 20 years, with the stable and harmonious political situation, and under the leadership of the CPC Central Committee with Hu Jintao as general secretary, "we are sure to overcome the difficulties and attain the goal of building a well-off society in an all-round way."

He said China will press ahead with its institutional reform, the reform of the system of administration, the reform of the examination and approval system, and the reform of financial and human resources management.

He said China will proceed with the reform of the political restructure in three aspects, namely, decision-making, law-based administration and democratic supervision.

He said that he will draw opinions from officials, experts and civilians on major issues and economic construction projects so as to shape up a scientific and democratic decision-making system and subject the law-based administration to the oversight by the people.

The new government will also extend democratic supervision, subjecting itself to the oversight by the National People's Congress(NPC), the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), the common people and the media, Wen stressed.

He emphasized that only by putting itself under intense scrutiny, will the government not slow down its pace.

Responding to a question on Renminbi exchange rate, the premier said that a strong and stable Renminbi is beneficial not only to China, but also to Asia and even the world as a whole, adding that China adopts a regulated floating exchange rate system according to market demands. Since 1994 when China reformed its exchange rate system, RMB has appreciated 18 percent against the US dollar and 34 percent against euro in real terms.

The key to resolving the problem of high rate of non-performing assets of the four State-owned commercial banks lies in continued reform, he noted.

The banks will have to focus on the building of a modern corporate structure and the establishment of a modern financial system so as to prepare the conditions for setting up a joint stock system in order to reduce non-performing loans, he said.

He vowed to intensify the effort to fight against corruption and put his cabinet under the intense scrutiny by the people and the whole society.

On commenting on his predecessor Zhu Rongji, he said he has a lot to learn from him. Although many people deem him a mild-tempered person, he told the press that he is a man of strong belief and responsibility.

He said that his new government will continue to follow unswervingly the policy of peaceful reunification of the motherland on the basis of "one country, two systems".

Extending his best regards to Taiwan compatriots, the premier said that it's the common aspiration of the entire Chinese people, including those in Taiwan, to see the complete reunification of the motherland. On the basis of the one-China principle, he said, his government will seek the early resumption of dialogue and talks across the Taiwan Straits. He expressed strong opposition to "Taiwan independence".

The Chinese government will also work hard to promote economic and cultural exchanges across the Straits and work for the early realization of the "three direct links" between the two sides, he added.

Talking about Hong Kong, he said, the central government will continue to render support to the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) to ensure its stability and prosperity. The central government "will spare no effort" in this regard, he stressed.

The central government plans to promptly implement all measures for building up closer economic relations between the inland areas and the HKSAR, he said.

To safeguard stability in the HKSAR is "the firm goal and unshirkable duty" of the central government, he added. The new premier expressed the hope that he would visit Hong Kong at the earliest possible date.

He said that the Iraq issue should be settled peacefully through political means within the framework of the United Nations, and war should be averted. The UN Resolution No. 1441 should continue to be implemented, and the arms inspection work should be continued.

In the meantime, Wen said, the Iraqi government should strictly abide by the relevant UN resolutions. Iraq should cooperate with international organizations in proceeding with weapons inspection, and destroy all weapons of massive destruction.

China will not give up on a peaceful solution to the Iraq crisis as long as there is still a glimmer of hope, said the premier, who described the situation on the Iraq issue with the use of a popular Chinese saying, which goes, "the arrow has already been placed on the bow."

He said that Sino-Russian ties will grow steadily thanks to concerted efforts made by the two countries. China and Russia share more than 4,000 km of common border. "The stability and development of Sino-Russian ties complies with the fundamental interests of both peoples."

There have been developments in the Sino-Russian strategic partnership of cooperation. The Sino-Russian Good-Neighborly Treaty of Friendship and Cooperation has laid a legal foundation for furthering the bilateral ties, he said.

China and Russia will continue to give scope to the role of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, a six-member regional organization founded in 2001, he noted.

"All members will strengthen consultation on major international issues and make due contributions to safeguarding world peace and promoting common development," the Chinese premier said.

He said that China hopes to develop relations with Japan in all fields, including exchange of visits at the high level. But he stressed China hopes that Japan would strictly observe the three joint documents, take history as a mirror and look forward to the future.

Proper settlement of issues left over from history is always the political basis for developing bilateral relations, he added.

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