Premier Li Keqiang Meets the Press: Full Transcript of Questions and Answers
Updated: March 12, 2021 11:03

Premier Li Keqiang Meets the Press:
Full Transcript of Questions and Answers

March 11, 2021

The Fourth Session of the 13th National People’s Congress held a press conference at the Great Hall of the People on the afternoon of March 11, 2021. Premier Li Keqiang met with Chinese and foreign reporters and answered their questions at the invitation of Spokesperson Mr. Zhang Yesui.

In his opening remarks, Premier Li Keqiang said that he was delighted to meet friends from the media and thanked the journalists for their hard work in covering China’s NPC and CPPCC Sessions. He noted that the press conference was again held via video link this year and then opened the floor for questions.

CNBC: Premier Li, the coronavirus pandemic has affected the way in which many jobs are done and located. What changes has China seen in the last year for its jobs in terms of quality and salary? And what specific measures will China take especially as the population ages? How has this affected consumption especially for foreign brands?

Premier Li: Employment is of paramount importance for a family and a country. In the raging times of COVID-19 last year when bustling streets were deserted and shops were closed, our biggest concern was massive job losses.

I recall a visit to a small shop during a local inspection tour. The shop owner told me that he was practically out of business for almost three months, but because of the government support in tax and fee cuts, exemptions of utility bills and rents, and wage subsidies, he managed to pull through and didn’t let any employee go. I asked him if he could still afford to pay his employees wages. He said he gave them some living allowances. There were some 20 employees on the spot. They all said they had nothing to complain about when they could still have something to cover their basic needs in such difficult times. Both the company and the employees were aware that as long as the company and jobs were there, once production was resumed, business would go up.

Last year, we faced much uncertainty in formulating macro policies. In the end, we decided not to set a numerical target for GDP growth, and with long and hard thinking, we set the target of new urban jobs at no less than nine million. Employment is the foundation of people’s well-being and development. It is also a source of wealth. We said we would strive for a positive growth of China’s economy for the whole year, out of the belief that if we could add no less than nine million new urban jobs, we would be able to achieve positive growth of the economy. Employment helps to generate income, boost consumption and drive economic growth.

Last year, under the strong leadership of the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core, and thanks to joint efforts made by all sides, the market entities showed great resilience, and our people faced the difficulty in solidarity.

For the whole year, we added 11.86 million new urban jobs. The economy expanded by 2.3 percent. There was continued increase in household income. All these performances were better than expectations.

This year, we still face mounting pressure in employment. Some 14 million new entrants will join the labor force, including another record high of college graduates totaling 9.09 million. We also need to meet the employment needs of ex-service members, and some 270 million to 280 million rural migrant workers.

We will continue to give top priority to employment in the macro policies this year. Employment will remain at the top of the “six priorities” where stability is the key and the “six areas” where protections are needed. The pro-job policies introduced last year will be kept in place, and beefed up in some respects. Other policies should also be conducive to job creation. We believe that steady economic rebound will boost employment, and expansion in employment will in turn promote steady and sound growth of the economy.

We have set the projected target of no less than 11 million new urban jobs for this year, and we hope to overfulfill it in actual implementation. In generating jobs, we will continue to enable the market to play a principal role. In other words, we will continue to promote employment by supporting market entities. We will stabilize and expand employment, and at the same time, open up new channels for job creation.

During the pandemic last year, we saw some new changes in the means of employment. New drivers of growth that developed rapidly in China in recent years, including online shopping and express delivery services, showed a strong momentum of expansion despite COVID-19 impacts. They helped to boost employment and the growth of some traditional industries. We will continue to encourage the creation of stable jobs, and also promote flexible employment, which is now rapidly developing in China. About 200 million people are involved in flexible employment. Some people work several jobs, which is quite tough. The government will provide them with subsidies for social security, and introduce institutionalized methods to give them basic protections in terms of occupational injury to bolster the healthy and stable growth of flexible employment.

As for the elderly population you referred to in your question, there are some 260 million elderly people in China. Industries related to services for elderly people are big sunrise industries as there is diverse demand among the senior population.

The Chinese market is multi-tiered with diverse consumer demand. This big, open market represents great opportunities for products, services and investments from foreign companies.

Our country has a 1.4 billion population. The labor force remains our most abundant resource. Our people are hardworking and resilient. Whenever there is an opportunity, they will seize it and put their talent to good use. A good life hinges on diligence. With diligence, one has no fear for shortages. I believe with the hard work of our people, we will be able to achieve common prosperity over time.

Agencia EFE: The United States has blamed China for the so-called lack of transparency to the WHO mission in Wuhan last month. The chief of the team said the Chinese counterparts shared a lot of details with them but he said they would like to have access to more raw data about earlier cases of illness similar to COVID-19 between October 2019 and December 2019. Will China provide these data and be willing to receive another mission visit?

Premier Li: COVID-19 is a global public health contingency. Like other countries,China also hopes that we can get to the bottom of where the virus came from as early as possible. This will help us to stem the spread of the virus and make covid containment more effective. Tracing the origins of the virus is a complex science matter. It calls for closer cooperation among countries and continuous research. The Chinese side has acted in a fact-based manner and with an open, transparent and cooperative approach. China has maintained communication with the WHO and provided support to the WHO mission during its research work in China. We will continue to work with the WHO in taking work on this front forward.

The virus is still spreading in many parts of the world. In addition to tracing its origins, our pressing task is to enhance COVID-19 response, including vaccine rollout. COVID-19 is a common enemy of humankind. We hope that all countries will come together to defeat this virus, for no country can do it alone. We have strong faith in the ability of humanity to prevail over the disease eventually. I also hope that next year we will be able to have the press conference face-to-face.

NIKKEI: In delivering the Government Work Report, you said the Chinese government would set its GDP growth target for 2021 at above six percent. Many international institutions forecast that China’s economy may well grow at about eight percent this year. In the first year of the period covered by the 14th Five-Year Plan, in addition to expanding investment in fixed assets, we are also seeing a risk of an over-heated real estate sector due to excessive liquidity worldwide. Currently the Chinese government is pursuing accommodative fiscal and monetary policies. Mr. Premier, given the aforementioned factors, is there a possibility for China to tighten its macro policies this year? According to estimates by the Japan Center on Economic Research, the size of China’s economy will surpass that of the United States in 2028. What is your comment on that?

Premier Li: I have taken note of the much attention paid to China’s above six percent of GDP growth target, and the much analysis about it. Some people believe it is positive whereas some say it is below expectation. We would certainly be happy to see robust growth, but we are also keenly aware that the economy has just recovered and there are many incomparable factors this year. What’s more, there is also great uncertainty in global economic recovery.

A six percent GDP growth target is not a low target. China’s GDP has reached 100 trillion RMB yuan. A six percent growth rate means adding an output of six trillion RMB yuan, which is equivalent to the amount generated by an over eight percent growth rate at the start of the 13th Five-Year Plan period. Moreover, by setting the GDP growth target at above six percent, we have left possibilities open, which means in actual delivery, there may be even faster growth.

A projected target is not something set in stone. It intends to guide expectations. We will further consolidate the foundation of economic recovery, promote high quality development and make our development truly sustainable. This target should also be aligned with what we can accomplish next year and the year after next. We must avert wild swings in economic performance which will de-anchor market expectations.

A growth too fast will not be a steady one. We need a steady pace to sustain China’s development. What we hope for such a big economy as China’s is sustained and sound growth for the long term.

In the face of unprecedented severe shocks last year, we acted in a prompt, decisive and focused manner. We did not flood China’s economy with massive liquidity. The increased fiscal funds totaling two trillion yuan were mostly used to support market entities and people’s well-being by making tax and fee cuts and meeting basic living needs.

We devised a new mechanism to directly allocate those funds to primary-level governments, so that such “lifeline support” can reach them in as short as seven days and local governments would have enough fiscal resources for tax and fee cuts and job retention. These measures worked effectively and efficiently.

We did have another option of channeling the funds to big projects or emerging sectors, which we also need. But that would take a lot of time for feasibility study and market demand analysis, probably as many as 200 days before a project is launched. It is way longer than seven days. So we did not go for that option. Because it would be too late when the money could reach market entities; by that time, many companies would have gone bankrupt.

I recall that at last year’s press conference, I was asked by a journalist whether the scale and intensity of our policy support was too modest. We believe that for fertilizer to work, it must go all the way to the root of plants. Hence we decided to act where policies were most needed and they proved to be effective and efficient. The scale and intensity were just right so we didn’t have to resort to policy instruments in reserve.

We didn’t use quantitative easing last year. So this year there is no need for sudden shifts in our policies. We will maintain the consistency and sustainability of the policies with a focus on solidifying the positive momentum of economic rebound. In keeping major economic indicators within an appropriate range, we must continue to support market entities, especially those smaller firms who are just recovering from COVID-19-induced shocks, just as ensuring that fertilizer goes right to the root of plants.

As economic rebound firms, we will make proper adjustments to some policies introduced last year. Some temporary measures may be unwound, but we will introduce new structural tax and fee cut policies to offset the impact of their drawdown. Our support for employment, people’s well-being, and market entities will remain undiminished.

How will we keep up the support intensity? The amount of fiscal funds does matter, but what matters more is how the money is used. We will draw upon the good experience gained from macroeconomic regulation last year. In terms of fiscal support, we will make further reductions in central government expenditures. Governments at all levels must live on a tight budget. We will increase the coverage of directly allocated fiscal funds to better support primary-level governments in helping market entities and people in need. In terms of financial support, while maintaining stability in overall leverage ratio, we will continue to encourage financial institutions to make reasonable interest concessions, so that financing will become more accessible and affordable for smaller firms. In the meantime, we will guard against and defuse various types of risks.

The fundamental purpose of China’s development is to enable the Chinese people to lead a better life. Our country is still a developing one and there is still a long way to go before we can achieve modernization. We will continue to focus on running our own affairs well. China’s development will be a major contribution to world peace, stability, development and prosperity.

China News Service: Mr. Premier, in the past couple of years, we realized the inter-provincial on-the-spot reimbursement of hospitalization bills through individual accounts of basic medical insurance, making access to medical services away from one’s hometown much easier. However, that is not yet the case for expenses incurred by seeing a doctor or taking prescription drugs for the many living and working in cities away from their home places, including the elderly people. This means they have to pay the bills upfront and travel back to their hometowns to have the bills settled. When can we realize the inter-provincial on-the-spot reimbursement of outpatient bills?

Premier Li: This is an issue that has been raised by many people in their real-name-based posts on the Chinese government’s portal website. When we pass school gates, it is often elderly people that we see who are sending children to school or picking them up. I suppose many of them are out-of-towners who are just in the city to help with caring for their grandchildren. They often face the hassle of traveling back to their hometowns to reimburse their medical expenses. The government is determined to have this problem resolved over time. By the end of this year, we will further expand the coverage of inter-provincial on-the-spot reimbursement of outpatient bills. By the end of next year, every county will have one designated medical institution which will be able to settle on-the-spot inter-provincially outpatient bills and other medical expenses. We should free elderly people from such trouble. Like other similar issues, this may not seem to be a very big thing. Yet if government officials care more and do more on these fronts, they will make life much easier for the elderly people and their families.

Phoenix TV: In the past year, COVID-19 dealt a heavy blow to Hong Kong. In the next couple of years, Hong Kong will enter into an important period of elections. At this year’s NPC session, a decision was adopted to improve the electoral system of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR). The Standing Committee of the NPC will amend relevant law. There is extensive attention on the future implementation of One Country, Two Systems. How to ensure the steady implementation of One Country, Two Systems in the Hong Kong SAR?

Premier Li: We have made it clear that we will continue to fully and faithfully implement the principle of One Country, Two Systems, under which the people of Hong Kong administer Hong Kong with a high degree of autonomy. We will continue to act in strict accordance with the Constitution and the Basic Law, fully implement the legal system and enforcement mechanisms for safeguarding national security in the Hong Kong SAR, and fully support the SAR government and its Chief Executive in administration according to law.

As for the NPC decision on improving the electoral system of the Hong Kong SAR you asked about, the purpose of the decision is clear-cut: it is to uphold and improve the system and institutions of One Country, Two Systems, uphold the principle of “patriots administering Hong Kong”, and ensure steady implementation of One Country, Two Systems.

Last year, Hong Kong suffered multiple disruptions. We hope people from all walks of life in the Hong Kong SAR will work together to defeat the virus at an early date, revive economic growth, improve people’s living standards and maintain Hong Kong’s long-term prosperity and stability. The Central Government will continue to give Hong Kong full support.

CCTV: China said it will make the country strong in science and technology. Yet our capability in some key areas still falls short, and certain critical technologies are still dependent on foreign supply. Some research seems to be oriented at quick success, and some high-tech projects in some regions with heavy investment have failed to deliver. How do you see such a situation? And what measures will the government take to spur innovation in science and technology?

Premier Li: Our country has achieved major breakthroughs in scientific and technological innovations over the years, and application-oriented innovation has been developing fast. But it is also true that our basic research is inadequate. To make our country strong in science and technology and enhance the ability to make innovations, we must solidify the foundation, which is basic research and application-oriented basic research, as the height of a building is determined by the depth of its foundation. We must reject any temptation for quick success, and take solid steps one at a time.

Our R&D spending as a percentage of GDP is still modest, especially in terms of basic research. It only accounts for six percent of total R&D spending whereas the number in developed countries ranges between 15 to 25 percent. We will continue to increase input in basic research. We will also carry out institutional reforms regarding science and technology. One very important aspect of granting scientists and researchers greater autonomy is for them to have a bigger say in deciding how research funds will be used. These people should not have to spend their valuable time and energy on doing paperwork or competing for awards. They should be able to stay fully concentrated on doing research, and they will be able to accomplish something big when they are well-grounded in their areas of specialty.

Here I would also like to say a few words to young students. No matter what job you want to do, or what dream you have for your life in the future, be sure to lay a solid foundation in essential knowledge and skills. Laying such a foundation and boosting your capacity for innovation are mutually reinforcing. The nutrients for a giant tree come from its root. Laying a solid foundation in knowledge and skills will open many doors and help you lead a fulfilling life.

We must rely on market forces in driving innovations. Companies are the most important force. During the 14th Five-Year Plan period, the government will continue to scale up inputs, and we also need to rely more on private actors in boosting their R&D spending. Hence our R&D spending increase needs to come from all stakeholders.

This would require institutional arrangement in policy support. This year we will introduce the tax incentive of raising the extra tax deduction on the R&D expenses of manufacturing firms to 100 percent. This is a market-oriented and inclusive tax break measure aiming to keep companies driven to scale up inputs in research and development.

We have a wealth of talent in China who are critical for R&D. In addition to enabling leading professionals to succeed, we should also recognize that there could be extraordinary wisdom among ordinary people. That is why in recent years we have been encouraging business startups and innovations among the general public. And this initiative has created enormous space for application-oriented innovation and overall innovation.

China’s effort to strengthen itself in science and technology needs the efforts of Chinese scientists. Yet it is also compatible with promoting international cooperation and exchanges among global scientists. Scientific explorations, discoveries and inventions call for cooperation and joint efforts. Isolation will lead nowhere and severance of industrial or supply chains will do no one good. Based on protecting intellectual property, China is ready to enhance cooperation with all other countries in science and technology to jointly promote progress of human civilization.

CNN: Mr. Premier, US-China relations hit a low point in the past several years since the establishment of diplomatic ties. In their recent statements, Chinese officials cited the highly erroneous anti-China policies of the Trump administration as the reason for that. Their message to the new US administration under President Biden is to right the wrongs. But many people in Washington, D.C. believe that two important points are overlooked in China’s position and judgement. That is, both sides are responsible for the worsening of the bilateral relationship, not as what China said, the responsibility lies solely with the US side. The other is, there is a high bipartisan consensus in Washington, D.C. in the attitude and major policy toward China, including on the origins of the coronavirus, Hong Kong and Xinjiang. How would you respond to this? Moreover, as the two countries are about to hold the first high-level consultations since the beginning of the Biden administration in Alaska next week, is China also prepared to adjust or alter its position and policy on related issues to reset and improve its relations with the United States?

Premier Li: In the past several years, China-US relations encountered great difficulties, which has adversely affected both countries and the world. As the world’s largest developing and developed countries, China and the United States both stand to gain from cooperation and lose from confrontation. In the past forty-plus years of diplomatic ties, China-US relations have gone through some twists and turns, but kept moving forward by overcoming obstacles. This is in keeping with the trend of world development and the fundamental interests of both countries. We hope that the two countries will act in the spirit of the phone conversation between President Xi Jinping and President Joe Biden, respect each other’s core interests and major concerns, refrain from interfering in each other’s internal affairs and work for sustained and healthy development of China-US relations in line with the principle of no conflict, no confrontation, mutual respect and win-win cooperation. That is in the interest of people of both countries. It is also what the international community hopes to see.

China and the United States are different in historical background, cultural heritage, stage of development and social system. Some differences and disagreements are hardly avoidable, and some could be quite acute. But what matters most is how these differences and disagreements are handled. The Chinese and American peoples have the wisdom and capability. The two sides need to have dialogue and exchanges based on mutual respect and equality. We hope to see dialogue in multiple areas and at various levels. Even if we cannot work things out anytime soon, such exchange of views will help boost trust and dispel misgivings. It will also help us better manage and mitigate our differences.

China and the United States have common interests. There are many areas where the two countries can cooperate. Last year, China-US trade bucked the trend and reached 4.1 trillion yuan, up by 8.8 percent over the previous year. The two countries need to put more energy on their common ground and expand converging interests. As permanent members of the UN Security Council, the two countries shoulder important responsibility for maintaining world peace and stability and promoting global prosperity and progress. We need to be future-oriented and overcome obstacles to move China-US relations in a direction of overall stability.

Xinhua News Agency: You have repeatedly stressed the importance of energizing market entities and leveraging their key role in driving economic development. At present, we are seeing that some market entities are still faced with difficulties or obstacles in terms of their production and operations, in fair competition and the market environment. What reform measures will the government take this year to alleviate their difficulties and revitalize those market entities?

Premier Li: The centerpiece of our reform last year was to align our macro policies with the needs of market entities to provide them with relief and energize them in a bid to consolidate the fundamentals of China’s economy. Over the past 40 years of reform and opening-up, we have been developing a socialist market economy to boost market entities so that the market can play its decisive role in allocating resources and the government can better play its role. During the 13th Five-Year Plan period, over 60 million new market entities were registered. Last year, especially in its latter half, with the economic rebound, we saw another upsurge in the number of new market entities. Now there are some 130 million market entities in China. Last year, the number of self-employed individuals increased by over 10 million, rising from 80 million to the current 90 million, providing 200 million job opportunities. So the important purpose of China’s reform agenda is to energize market entities.

We will continue to keep our policies well-aligned with the needs of market entities. This year, we will continue to reform government functions to better help market entities survive and thrive. Last year, we said we would help keep market entities afloat. This year we will work to sustain and revitalize the market actors, as their survival and thrival is critical for the vitality and resilience of China’s economy. An important part of the reform of government functions is to allow market entities to make their own decisions wherever necessary. We will continue to streamline administrative review processes in terms of procedures, documents, fees and time needed to lessen the burdens on market entities and free up more space for them to compete freely on the market.

Competition needs to happen on a level-playing field. We will improve our regulation to ensure fairness on the market so that market entities can better show their creativity and innovation. We will streamline administration and also enhance supervision and regulation. That includes developing new regulatory approaches and enhancing compliance oversight. Those are all part of the reform package. We will continue to support the Internet Plus model and the Internet of Things as new forms of industry and business. We will combat such malpractices as cheating of marketplace, counterfeiting, acts of bad faith, fraud, and illegal fund-raising in the name of new forms of industry, because these malpractices disrupt market order and undermine fairness. Without fairness, neither competition nor market vitality would be possible.

The government will deliver better services and foster an enabling environment for all companies who put quality first, act in good faith and concentrate on making their products and services more competitive. As for those high-demand government services, we will work hard to make them accessible on-line through smart phones on a one-stop basis to better energize market entities and boost social creativity.

TVBS of Taiwan: Early this year, Taiwan expressed hope for resumed cross-Straits exchanges with the mainland in the post-COVID era. However, so far, we have yet to see signs of an easing situation across the Taiwan Straits. What is the view of the mainland on the current situation? And what does the mainland intend to do in the future?

Premier Li: Our principle and policy towards Taiwan have been consistent and clear-cut. We remain committed to the one-China principle and the 1992 Consensus. On that basis, we welcome exchanges with any political party or group from Taiwan, and we welcome dialogue with any party, group or personage of Taiwan on cross-Straits relations and future of the nation. We will continue to promote peaceful development of cross-Straits relations and China’s reunification. We are opposed to any form of separatist activities seeking “Taiwan independence” and foreign interference in cross-Straits affairs.

We always believe that people on both sides of the Taiwan Straits belong to one and the same family. That is why in recent years, we have introduced a series of policies that benefit Taiwan companies and compatriots, and many have benefited from such policy measures. We will continue to enable Taiwan compatriots to share in the development opportunities on the mainland and promote integrated development across the Taiwan Straits.

People’s Daily: The COVID-19 pandemic has made some difficulties related to people’s lives more acute, including in the areas of medical services, education, elderly and child care. This has been an area of weakness in our country’s economic and social development, and our people have not felt as many gains or as much happiness as they deserve. What measures will the government take to tackle these problems?

Premier Li: With a modest increase over the previous year, total fiscal spending for this year is of no small amount, and will be weighted towards the wide range of areas related to people’s lives, especially compulsory education and basic medical care. If the economy keeps the positive momentum in the second half of the year, we intend to channel a greater share of budgetary expenditures and funds raised by issuing government bonds to these areas. Such inputs may not make a big difference in driving GDP growth for the current year, but they are critical for laying a solid foundation for China’s long-term development and bettering people’s lives. We must continue to implement the development thinking of putting people at the center, which is an important component of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era. Our government is a people’s government. It must respond to the people’s needs.

Education and health concerns the future of every family and every nation. While I was attending the deliberation of a provincial delegation during the two sessions this year, the headmaster of a secondary school told me that in county and township secondary schools, quality teachers are in short supply. Their pay packages are inadequate and it is difficult for them to further their education. This year we will scale up on-the-job training for teachers in counties and townships to help them further their education. Preferential arrangement will be made for their professional title assessment. Children of rural migrant workers in cities with urban residency permits must be given an opportunity for education. No child should be put at a disadvantage because of his/her family background or where he/she comes from. Educational fairness is most important in ensuring equal access to opportunities.

Good health is the foundation of happiness. It is also in itself a productive force. Our medical institutions in counties and townships are still weak, hence people have to go to big hospitals in big cities for medical treatment. This year we will increase funding support for medical institutions, including health clinics, in counties and townships, through multiple channels. The government will also take a series of concrete steps, including expanding the coverage of reimbursement of outpatient bills and medical expenses for common disease drugs, and lowering the prices of drugs and high-priced consumables. The purpose is to help make access to medical services easier and lessen the financial burden on patients. This will also help consolidate the gains we have made in ending abject poverty, so that people won’t go back into poverty because of falling ill.

In terms of elderly and child care, we will rely more on private actors in running community-based services in these areas. They will receive tax breaks and other preferential policies from the government, so that each and every family will have less burden in terms of elderly and child care and feel the warmth of government support. In a word, there are still many areas where a lot needs to be done to improve people’s lives and we need to tackle these problems in the course of development. Our country’s social security system intends to meet people’s basic needs with a broad-based coverage. While strengthening social protection through development, we must also keep our focus on the top priorities. Compulsory education and basic medical care are things that concern each and every individual as well as the future of our country and nation. Governments at all levels must fully live up to their responsibilities in these fields.

Lianhe Zaobao: China said it will foster a new development paradigm with domestic circulation as the mainstay and domestic and international calculations reinforcing each other. I wonder if this is a kind of strategic retreat that China feels compelled to make due to the encirclement by the United States and other Western countries. As China develops domestic circulation and builds a supersized domestic market, what changes will that effect? Will it mean a dwindling space for foreign investment?

Premier Li: China will have a keen grasp of the new development stage, implement the new development philosophy, and move faster to foster a new development paradigm with domestic circulation as the mainstay and domestic and international circulations reinforcing each other. This is to boost our domestic market and open China wider to the world. The Chinese economy has become deeply integrated into the global economy. Shutting its door to the world will lead nowhere. We will continue to take the initiative to open wider. This is what we need to do and it is also beneficial for the whole world.

Rising domestic demand in China will drive its own development and present great opportunity for foreign investment, products and services. While I was attending the deliberation of a provincial delegation, an entrepreneur said that if one gets the domestic circulation, it will help him leverage the domestic market; by getting dual circulation, one will be in a good position to leverage the international markets, and the two markets can be linked up. He made the case in a simple and succinct way.

Openness calls for joint efforts among countries. Last year, after eight years of negotiations, 15 countries, namely the 10 ASEAN countries, China, Japan, the ROK, Australia and New Zealand, concluded the RCEP agreement, the largest FTA in the world. This is an FTA among countries different in social system, cultural heritage and stage of development. Its conclusion shows that with mutual respect and equality, countries with such differences can work things through, reach consensus, identify common interests and add to the good of people of these countries. This agreement is also important for keeping regional industrial and supply chains stable and boosting global economic growth.

China is an important component of the world industrial and supply chains. China will continue to play its due role and live up to its due responsibilities. We will continue to uphold the multilateral trading regime based on WTO rules, and China has a positive and open attitude towards any multilateral or bilateral mechanism that helps achieve mutual benefit.

We will continue to take the initiative to open further. We will further shorten the negative list on market access for foreign investors and further open up our services and other sectors. I know that foreign investors following keenly the development of China’s business environment. We will continue to foster a world-class, market-oriented business climate governed by a sound legal framework. We believe that by taking various actions to expand domestic demand and further open up, China will remain a key destination for foreign investment and a big market to the world.

The Press Conference was held via video link between the main venue, the Golden Hall on the third floor of the Great Hall of the People, and the Press Center for the NPC and CPPCC Sessions at Media Center Hotel. It lasted for about 110 minutes.

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