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Chinese government to take measures to strengthen weak links

Zhang Yue
Updated: Sep 6,2016 5:45 PM

Measures will be put in place by the Chinese government to improve weak links, including poverty alleviation, infrastructure work, urban flood prevention and boosting new growth engines to achieve a more balanced and effective development.

This was decided during the State Council’s executive meeting on Sept 5, chaired by Premier Li Keqiang, as he heard a report by the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) on China’s efforts in improving key weak links as well as measures to be taken down the road.

“The key to expanding demand and creating a proper context for China’s supply side structural reform is improving our own weak links,” Premier Li said. “China is still a developing country, with huge development gaps among regions and also between rural and urban areas. We need to work hard to expand effective investment and make stronger efforts in improving weak links.”

Improving the country’s weak links is one of the major tasks set for the 13th Five-Year Program, and was raised during the Central Economic Conference in Beijing last December. As he spoke during that meeting, Premier Li said that reducing excess capacity, lowering corporate costs and improving weak links for better livelihoods would be the government’s core task in 2016, while maintaining economy growth within a proper range. It also plays an indispensable role in China’s structural reform.

“Currently we are still under pressure to maintain stable economic growth and create jobs, and our achievements in the first half of this year did not come easily,” Premier Li said.

China’s economy grew at 6.7 percent in the first half of 2016, within the targeted range of 6.5 percent to 7 percent.

Yet the country still needs more work in improving the weak links, such as infrastructure and poverty alleviation.

As was decided at the meeting on Sept 5, further measures will be taken in the following areas. First, on poverty alleviation, efforts will be made to lift 10 million people out of poverty by the end of 2016; second, hydro engineering and urban water logging prevention infrastructure will be improved, especially in areas that were flooded this summer, and another 10 new flood prevention projects will be started this year; third, infrastructure building will be stepped up further, with a total of 800 billion yuan to be invested in railway construction, and construction of over 2,000 kilometers of underground pipelines will commence this year. Public facilities for the elderly will also be improved. Further support will also be offered in developing agriculture, technological and equipment upgrading as well as nurturing new economic driving forces.

The government is expected to play a leading role in strengthening these areas of weakness, while more market access will be open to private investors. Areas such as civil airports, telecommunication, and oil-gas exploration are to give more opportunities to social investors.

Premier Li stressed that such efforts need to be implemented with a clear focus on critical infrastructure projects as well as accelerating institutional reforms to create a good environment for improving weak links.

The meeting urges all departments to come up with a clear timeline.

“We need to better intensify both positive and negative incentives to generate enthusiasm from all departments,” Premier Li said. “Meanwhile, lawful rights of all market players must be protected, and harsher penalties are necessary for governments that fail in their duties.”