Premier Wen Jiabao meets the press

Photo:Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao meets the press at the Great Hall of the People, March 14.
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao meets the press at the Great Hall of the People, March 14.
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao met the press conference in the Great Hall of the People March 14, 2005. Wen answered questions about the macro-control, the Anti-Secession Law, renminbi and Hong Kong issues.

No letup in macro-control efforts

Premier Wen Jiabao said that China would have no letup in its efforts of macro economic control, which has contributed to the country's steady and rapid economic growth and stabilization of market prices over the past year.

"The top priority for the government is to further strengthen and improve macro-regulative policy and measures in order to maintain a steady and fairly rapid economic growth," said Wen at a press conference held on the sidelines of the annual full session of the top Chinese legislature, which just concluded Monday morning in Beijing.

"We mustn't stop and we must waste our previous efforts," Wen stressed.

Citing problems such as greater difficulties in raising grain output and farmers' income and a serious strain of energy supply and transportation capacity, Wen conceded that China is now faced with "many dilemmas" in its "overstretched" economy.

He pointed out that these problems were actually problems with the economic growth mode and institutional problems, and therefore would "take time to be addressed".

He also promised that his government would "give different treatment to different situations" in its macro-control efforts, adding that "we must take both administrative and economic means to achieve macro-regulative objectives".

Anti-Secession Law to advance cross-Straits ties

Answering the question on the Anti-Secession, Premier Wen said that the Anti-Secession law has been made to strengthen and advance ties across the Taiwan Straits, instead of being a war mobilization order.

The Anti-Secession Law aims to strengthen and advance relations across the Taiwan Straits and aims at maintaining peace, Wen told Chinese and foreign journalists who covered the just-concluded annual session of the National People's Congress, China's top legislature.

It does not target the Taiwan compatriots, nor is it a law of war against Taiwan, he said, adding that the law states clearly it aims to promote exchanges between the people on both sides of the Taiwan Straits, encourage and facilitate economic cooperation, the three "direct links", as well as exchanges in various fields including education, science and technology and culture.

The Anti-Secession Law stipulates that the rights and interests of Taiwan businesspeople on the mainland shall be protected, said Wen.

"The law aims at checking and opposing 'Taiwan Independence' secessionist forces," he said. "Only when the 'Taiwan independence' secessionist forces are checked and opposed, can we maintain peace in the cross-Straits region."

Peace and stability in the cross-Straits region, he said, will facilitate businesspeople from Taiwan and abroad to invest in the mainland.

"The important speech delivered recently by Chinese President Hu Jintao on the Taiwan question has stated clearly that we will protect the legitimate rights and interests of Taiwan businesspeople on the mainland," said the Premier. "We will do whatever benefits the Taiwan people."

He said China will develop into a regular practice as early as possible the cross-Straits direct passenger charter flights that are conducted on festivals and holidays and will take measures to boost sales of farm produce from Taiwan, particularly from southern Taiwan, to the mainland.

On the other hand, the premier said China will seek to resume and solve the export of labor forces for fishermen from the mainland to work in Taiwan.

"We're also ready to take a series of preferential policies and convenient measures," he told more than 700 journalists from home and abroad.

Plan for more flexible exchange rate

On the question concerning yuan's rate, Premier Wen said that China is working on a plan for a more flexible exchange rate of its currency, but the specific measures might come around unexpected.

China started to reform its exchange rate in 1994 and the work has never stopped. The purpose is to establish a market-based, managed and floating exchange rate, Wen said at the press conference held after the conclusion of the annual session of the National People's Conference (NPC), the top legislature.

Wen said what China is doing now is to lay a solid foundation for such a reform. The necessary prerequisites for the reform include, first, macroeconomic stability and growth and second, a healthy financial situation.

Meanwhile, said Wen, China has already taken a series of measures to ease foreign exchange regulation.

Wen said there has been no agreement on what impacts the change of China's exchange rate, or the appreciation of Renminbi, will have on the Chinese economy, Chinese enterprises and neighboring countries and other countries in the world.

Frankly speaking, although some people strongly ask for the appreciation of Renminbi, they don't fully understand the problems arising from the appreciation, Wen said.

China is a responsible country. On the issue of the appreciation of Renminbi and the exchange rate system, China not only considers the domestic interests, but also its possible impacts on neighboring countries and the world, he said.

Tung's contribution to HK to be remembered

Tung Chee Hwa's resignation from the post of Chief Executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region has been "out of his own sincere will", and his contributions to Hong Kong will be remembered by the Hong Kong people and treated fairly by history.

He said at the press conference after the conclusion of the National People's Congress annual session that Tung's proposal to resign from the post would win understanding from the Hong Kong people and would be respected by the Central Government.

Wen said that he believes that the Hong Kong people are fully capable of running Hong Kong well and the central government will unswervingly stick to the principle of "one country, two systems" and "the Hong Kong people governing Hong Kong" and "a high degree of autonomy".

The election of a new chief executive of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) will be done fully in accordance with the Basic Law and other laws, he said.

"The central government will always strictly follow the Basic Law," Wen added.

He said he hopes the Hong Kong people, with one accord, would make further contributions to prosperity and stability in the special administrative region.

Since the People's Republic of China resumed exercise of sovereignty over Hong Kong in 1997, Wen said, the HKSAR has implemented in a real earnest way the principle of "one country, two systems".

"The capitalism has remained in Hong Kong, laws have been basically intact and life style of the Hong Kong people has remained unchanged," he said.

Despite the Asian financial crisis, Hong Kong's economy has picked up and living standard of its people has further been improved, Wen said.

"Over the seven and more years," he said, "Mr. Tung has done a tremendous and creative job."

"He was hardworking with few complaints and showed his strong sense of responsibility," Wen said.

Efforts for high-level visits between China, Japan

The Premier said China and Japan should make joint efforts to create conditions for high-level exchanges of visits in a bid to improve bilateral relations.

He also suggested the foreign affairs departments of the two countries should begin strategic study and research on strengthening and improving China-Japan relations. And problems left over from history should be properly handled.

Wen said since the normalization of bilateral relationship, the China-Japan relations have made great progress. Last year, bilateral trade approached to 170 billion US dollars and the number of bilateral personnel visits exceeded four million.

However, there are obstacles to China-Japan relations. They are particularly in the political sector and the fundamental issue is how the Japanese side views correctly the issues left over from history.

He said the development of China-Japan relations should comply with the following three principles:

First, taking history as a mirror and looking forward into the future. The year of 2005 marked the 60th anniversary of the victory on the War of Resistance Against Japanese Aggression won by the Chinese people. It reminded us untold sufferings of the Chinese people, Asian people and even Japanese people at that time.Therefore, "We hope that the Japanese government could take opportunities to promote friendship between the two countries."

Second, the Japanese government should stick to the "one China" principle. The Japan-America security alliance is a bilateral arrangement. The Chinese people are concerned with the alliance, because it is related to the Taiwan issue, which is China's internal affair and never allows any direct or indirect interference by any other countries.

Third, strengthening cooperation and pursuing common development. There are tremendous potentials in China-Japan friendly cooperation, especially in the economy and trade sectors, Wen said.

"Fight nut-cracking battle" in reform in 2005

The year 2005 is not only a year of reform, but a year of "fight a nut-cracking battle" in reform, Premier Wen Jiabao said.

To remove the unhealthy and destabilizing factors in the economy and strengthen the achievements of macroregulation hinges on reform, he said.

To solve the deeply-rooted "contradictions and problems" in the economic development, adjust the industrial structure and change the patterns of economic growth relies on reform, the premier said.

Wen said that to realize social fairness and justice and build a harmonious society also needs reform.

China's reform cannot be done in just one year, but is a long-term target. It would be better to solve some problems at an earlier date, or they will be accumulated to a level hard to solve,Wen warned.

The premier set five tasks for reform this year:

-- To restructure government bodies and change government functions;

-- To promote the reform of state-owned enterprises, focusing on building corporate governance and joint-stock reform;

-- To push forward financial reform. We need to exert great efforts for the reform since the finance is an "very important and problematic" part in the economy;

-- To push forward rural reform focusing on the reform of tax and fees administration; and,

-- To advance social security reform.

Premier to visit India

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao announced Monday that he will pay a visit to India soon at the invitation of his Indian counterpart.

The premier said that as the two most populous nations in the world, China and India are not rivals but friends, and that both countries shall work together to tap the potential of bilateral cooperation and find a "fair, reasonable and mutually acceptable plan" to solve their border disputes.

"I hope you can send my message back to the great Indian people, that we're not competitors, we are friends," said Wen while asked by an Indian correspondent to comment on bilateral relations between the two countries.

Acknowledging that China and India will celebrate next month the 55th anniversary of the establishment of their diplomatic ties, Wen expressed the hope that the anniversary would "become a new starting point for Sino-Indian friendly cooperation".

Stating that the development of Sino-Indian relations has "entered a new stage" in recent years, Wen said that during his planned visit, he would seek consensus mainly on three issues with his Indian hosts.

"Both China and India should fully recognize the great significance of Sino-Indian friendship, not only to Asia, but also to the entire world," said Wen.

Though the annual trade volume between the two countries has now reached 13.6 billion US dollars, there remains great potentials for the two sides to expand cooperation and seek common development, he added.

On the sensitive boundary issue, the premier suggested that the two countries first establish the principle for the resolution of the issue, which was left over by history, on the basis of equal consultation and mutual understanding and accommodation with both respect for history and accommodation for reality.

The premier gave an emotional ending to his comments by quoting from an ancient Indian poem: "May we not hate anyone. Let there be peace, let there be peace, let there be peace!"

Tightening trade, economic ties with Russia

On the issue concerning China's economic ties with Russia, the premier said he would discuss with his Russian counterpart Mikhail Fradkov about trade and economic cooperation, particularly that in oil and gas exploration, when they met in the second half of the year.

China and Russia have reached a consensus on energy cooperation, Wen said, citing Russia's promise to enlarge oil export to China to 10 million tons for 2005 and 15 million tons for 2006, based on last year's 9 million tons.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has made it clear that Russia would give first consideration to China in building an oil-gas pipeline in Siberia, he said, adding that the two countries would also strengthen cooperation in oil and gas exploration and development.

China-Russia energy cooperation is an important part of the bilateral cooperative friendship and is based on equality and mutual benefit, Wen said at a press conference shortly after the end of the Chinese parliament's annual session.

Describing the China-Russia relationship over the last few years as being in "the best period" since the settlement of the border issues left over from history, Wen said the two countries had set a goal to expand their trade to 60 billion-80 billion US dollars by 2010.

Last year, China and Russia established a strategic partnership of cooperation and their trade reached 20 billion US dollars.

China not to abolish death penalty
Premier Wen said that China will not abolish death penalty due to consideration of its own national conditions though the government is pressing ahead the judicial reform.

The Premier confirmed that measures are being taken to reform the country's judicial system including the possible callback of the power to approve death penalty to the Supreme People's Court.

However, based on China's "national conditions", it is impossible for China to rescind the sentence term, said Wen, citing the fact that half of the nations worldwide still adopt the death penalty to support his comment.

The Premier also vowed to improve judicial mechanism to ensure "death penalty to be given carefully and fairly".

China well planned to carry forward rural reform, development
China's rural reform and development has entered its second phase, with industry expected to nurture agriculture and cities to support rural areas, according to the Premier.

"We should give more, take less and further liberalize the rural productivity," Wen said while meeting Chinese and foreign journalists who covered the just-ended third annual session of the 10th National People's Congress.

He listed four jobs as the central tasks for the second phase.

Firstly, efforts should be made to promote rural reforms with focus on rural tax and administrative fee reform.

Secondly, productivity in the rural areas should be improved by building more water conservation projects and promoting wider application of agriculture-related science and technologies.

Thirdly, "we should also further develop education, science and technology, culture as well as other social undertakings in the rural areas," Wen said.

And finally, grass-roots democracy should be promoted by enhancing the ability of self-governance among villagers, implementing direct election at the village level and giving greater transparency in administration affairs at the village and county level, he added.

In the first phase for rural reform and development, China has introduced to the rural areas the family contract responsibility system, which has granted farmers greater autonomy in land use, production and management. "As a result, it has greatly liberalized productivity in the rural areas," Wen said.

China will continue to boost capital market

China will continue its policy of developing the capital market and expand direct financing, said Premier Wen.

Wen listed some specific measures to achieve that goal, including enhancing efforts to improve the quality of listed firms, which he said is "fundamental" to the country's endeavors in developing the securities market.

China will also build an open, fair and transparent securities market, intensify supervision and crack down on any behaviors in violation of laws and regulations, the premier said in response to a question raised by an Economic Daily reporter on China's measures to develop its stock market that has been plummeting in recent years despite a decision adopted by the State Council last year on the further reform, opening up and stable development of the stock market.

Wen said China will also regulate the securities market with rules and regulations and better protect the interests of investors, particularly that of public investors.

The premier said China's securities market, which took shape in the early days of the Chinese socialist market economy, has made important contributions to China's economic development.

"But we have to admit that the stock prices have been plummeting in recent years, due to our lack of know-how and experience, inadequate stock market regulations and immature market," the premier said, adding that he is attentive to the stock prices every day.

He said the stock price has probably received the highest click rate from China's Internet population and is one of the major issues arousing concerns from Chinese audiences who watch the Premier Wen's press conference, broadcast live at China Central Television.



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