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Ministers meet the media: Highlights

Updated: Mar 12,2019 4:17 PM

Ministers are taking questions from the media about the most pressing public issues. This is the fourth ministers’ “passage interviews” of this year’s two sessions.

Passage interviews got their name because they usually take place on walkways leading to the main hall of the Great Hall of the People before or after plenary meetings of the National People’s Congress and the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference.

Here are the highlights:

China to enact large-scale tax cuts: tax commissioner

Chinese tax authorities are preparing to implement large-scale tax cuts and fee reductions, Wang Jun, State Taxation Administration commissioner said.

The cuts aim to reduce the burden on manufacturing companies, small and micro-sized enterprises, and the working class, in an effort to stabilize employment, the financial sector, trade, domestic investment and market confidence, Wang said.

“This scale of tax cuts and fee reductions has rarely been seen over the past decades, both inside and outside China. It demonstrates the resolution, confidence, wisdom and power of our Party and government to overcome difficulties and make great efforts to build a strong state,” he said.

National parks to be better protected: forestry chief

The standards to protect China’s national parks have been drafted and illegal projects have been gradually eliminated to protect natural reserves, Zhang Jianlong, head of the National Forestry and Grassland Administration and the National Park Administration said on the sidelines of the ongoing two sessions on March 12.

To strengthen the management for each park, a specific plan and regulation will be made. And the national park system contributed to poverty relief. In the current 10 pilot national parks, 50,000 rangers were hired, each with a salary of about 1,800 yuan ($268), according to Zhang.

Regulator wants SOEs to optimize their resources: Xiao Yaqing

China’s State-owned assets regulator asked SOEs on March 12 to take further steps in optimizing their resources.

“The goal, for them, is to better meet market demand and align with high-quality development that China is currently promoting,” said Xiao Yaqing, head of the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission.

Xiao said that although China has made great progress in SOEs’ structural reforms in key sectors such as electricity, oil and gas and railways, the country still has room for further improvements, as SOEs currently have problems like competing in a homogeneous market.

Property rights protection center may be established overseas

China is exploring the establishment of an overseas intellectual property rights protection assistance center to safeguard the country’s intellectual property, Shen Changyu, head of the National Intellectual Property Administration, said on March 12.

“We need to step up our efforts in safeguarding our rights to effectively protect Chinese intellectual property rights abroad,” he said on the sidelines of the ongoing two sessions.

Shen also said that the country will improve laws and regulations by establishing a system of punitive damages to substantially raise the cost of infringement.

SOE reform on track in provinces and autonomous regions: Xiao Yaqing

The reform of China’s local State-owned enterprises (SOE) is on track in the country’s provinces and autonomous regions, said Xiao Yaqing, head of the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission, on March 12.

Xiao further said that government will offer more guidance to promote the reform process in the regions.

Local governments attach great importance to SOE reform, and great progress has been made in many provincial regions, such as Shanghai and Guangdong, as well as Northeast China, Xiao said on the sidelines of the two sessions.

Safety of food and drugs will be further enhanced: Fu Zhenghua

China’s food and drug safety situation is improving steadily, in general, but still face acute problems, Fu Zhenghua, minister of justice, said, adding strict supervision and severe punishment will be on offer to better protect the country’s food and drug safety.

“We will use the most stringent regulatory measures and the most strict punishment to promote the continuous improvement of food and drug safety and ensure what people eat and use are safe,” Fu said on March 12 during a “passage interview” on the sidelines of the ongoing two sessions.

China will continue to improve legislation and amend relevant laws to tackle the problems of low crime costs and lenient punishment, Fu said, adding that laws related to food and drug safety should be strict, hard and tough and serve as a “high-voltage line” to safeguard people’s safety.

Employment challenges remain

China has made great progress in stabilizing employment but still face critical challenges, Zhang Jinan, Minister of Human Resources and Social Security, said on March 12.

Zhang said that about 13.61 million urban jobs were created in 2018, an increase of 100,000 more than in 2017. The registered urban unemployment rate also declined to 3.8 percent by the end of 2018.

However, the country faces continued employment pressure as it has about a 900 million workforce. Also, employment prospects and job security are not only concerning job-seekers but employers who may face an unbalanced talent supply.

Economic situation gained momentum in Jan-Feb period

China’s overall economic situation improved in the Jan-Feb period, said Ning Jizhe, head of the National Bureau of Statistics, on March 12.

“From the beginning of the year, the Chinese economy has been stable and has shown improving momentum,” Ning said during.

Ning said his remarks were based on current available economic data of the Jan-Feb period, while the NBS is still working on the comprehensive data, which will be released on March 14 as scheduled.

Govt to further cut academic burden on primary, secondary students

Education authorities will continue to reduce the excessive academic workload on primary and secondary school students, Minister of Education Chen Baosheng said on March 12.

Both zero workload and excessive workload are harmful to students, and reducing the workload requires concerted efforts from the school, teachers, education authorities, parents and the society, Chen said.

The school should follow the teaching syllabus and control the amount and difficulty of classes and homework and parents should form scientific parenting concepts and refrain from competing with others, Chen said.

The government should continue its reform on student enrollment, textbook and exams, he said, adding it should also work on bridging the gap between rural and urban education development.

Greater flexibility in dealing with juvenile crimes

China will continue to strengthen its juvenile justice system, classify juvenile delinquencies on different levels and form a joint force with society to better protect the underage and prevent juvenile crimes, said Tong Jianming, deputy procurator-general, on March 12.

In October, the Supreme People’s Procuratorate issued a proposal to the Ministry of Education, suggesting the ministry reinforce the management of school safety and formulate more concrete measures to prevent sexual assault against students.

The ministry has attached great importance to the proposal and set up a special team, jointly with other administrative departments at all levels, to implement the protection system for child sexual abuse, impose strict management on girls’ dormitories, as well as file reports of sexual assaults happened on campus, according to Tong.

China to maintain consistent housing policies

China will continue policies to stabilize housing and land prices and market expectations, said Wang Menghui, minister of Housing and Urban-Rural Development on March 12.

“Local authorities need to improve market mechanisms, and apply appropriate policies and regulations in accordance with their own situations, to stabilize market expectation, the price of land and housing, and prevent sudden price increases or slumps,” said Wang.

He said that the property market has seen a slow-down in the trade volume of houses, gradually stabilizing house prices, and increasingly rational market expectations.

He said the ministry will encourage the rental market and maintain consistency in housing policies and regulations.