Last updated at: (Beijing Time) Wednesday, March 19, 2003

'I'll Do Whatever it Takes': Premier Wen

China's new premier Wen Jiabao mixed poems with politics yesterday in Beijing as he committed himself to the country and people.


China's new premier Wen Jiabao mixed poems with politics yesterday in Beijing as he committed himself to the country and people.

"I will do whatever it takes to serve my country even at the cost of my own life, regardless of fortune or misfortune to myself," Wen said, quoting a poem written by the patriotic Qing Dynasty official Lin Zexu in the 19th century.

"This will be the attitude with which I will start my work," said Wen, who was approved as premier on Sunday by nearly 3,000 Chinese lawmakers.

He made the remarks yesterday at his first press conference as premier after the first session of the 10th National People's Congress (NPC) concluded. Four new vice-premiers - Huang Ju, Wu Yi, Zeng Peiyan and Hui Liangyu - were also present.

Wen said the new government will try to sustain China's comparatively rapid economic growth and improve people's living standards.

It will focus on adjusting the structure of the economy and opening the country up further, according to Wen.

He listed employment and social security issues, increasing financial revenue, and putting the market in order as "three important economic tasks."

Reforms in rural areas, State-owned enterprises, the financial sector and government institutions, will also be pushed forward, said Wen.

He said the government will continue to encourage the development of private enterprises, which will enjoy the same treatment as State companies in terms of market access, taxation, loans and foreign trade.Commenting on relations between the Chinese mainland and Taiwan, Wen called for the two sides to resume dialogue and negotiations as soon as possible based on the one-China principle.

He cited a few lines from a poem written by Yu You-jen, a veteran Kuomintang member participating in the 1911 revolution:

"Bury me on the highest mountain top

So I can get a sight of my mainland

Mainland, I see none

Tears of sorrow cascade."

"Peaceful reunification is the common aspiration of all Chinese people, including Taiwan compatriots," said Wen.

Wen also touched upon the Iraqi issue, China's political reforms as well as Sino-Japanese and Sino-Russian relations.

"Wen is an intelligent and smart man who has excellent knowledge of economics and finance," said Andreas Landwehr, a journalist with the German Press Agency, who raised a question at the press conference.

He said he was very impressed by Wen's emphasis on listening to different opinions in the decision-making process.

James Kygne, Beijing Bureau Chief of the Financial Times, said he was most impressed by Wen's firm grasp of economic figures and details.

"That demonstrated not only his remarkable memory but also his in-depth knowledge about his work."

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