Premier upholds reform promises

From: China Daily Updated: 2014-03-13 17:49
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Li Keqiang vowed to push reform when he was sworn in as Premier last March. Now, one year on, he has not let us down.

Some highlights of the past year under Li:

- China launched the landmark China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone, marking the start of a slate of far-reaching economic and financial reforms.

- Beijing reached consensus with ASEAN countries on the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, a free trade arrangement that involves the 10 ASEAN economies and Australia, China, India, South Korea and New Zealand, which is a crucial step for China to further integrate into the global economy.

- The central government made substantial headway in liberalizing business after it cancelled or relegated to the local governments 416 administrative approval items in 2013.

- More than 16 million people stepped out of poverty.

- The western region achieved faster growth than its eastern counterpart and the tertiary sectors. For the first time, the region become the largest contributor to the country's newly increased GDP, thanks to the renewed efforts of the government to restructure the national economy.

And, above all, with courage and wisdom, Li successfully steered the world's second-largest economy through uncertainties and turbulences.

Memory of the sudden cash crunch in the domestic financial system in June remains fresh, an event that points to the necessity of reform and, trickily, the severity of the challenge in carrying out necessary reforms.

While solving some nagging problems, Li did not hesitate to take bold reform measures to build up the long-term competitiveness of the Chinese economy.

Meanwhile, facing the complexity of the reform agenda, Li has avoided a reckless shock therapy approach in solving the many thorny problems facing the Chinese economy. Stable growth remains on top of the government agenda.

A quest for balance is especially important for China, an emerging and developing economy with great growth potential and vitality. Still, the country also faces potentially disastrous problems as it develops.

Looking forward to the year ahead, China will encounter more difficulties as its economy expands amid an uncertain global environment.

Li rightly warned at the closing press conference of the National People's Congress session that the world's economic situation could be unexpectedly complex this year. He said such chaos had the potential to drive China's growth to below the target of 7.5 percent.

The US' ongoing tapering of its quantitative easing scheme, for example, could bring about global market fluctuations that might complicate China's financial and economic management.

Even greater challenges lay ahead: local government debt, shadow banking, volatile international markets and a risky housing market.

With these issues in sight, a reform mentality based on pragmatism and a pioneering spirit will be indispensible for Li to live up to the expectations of the people.

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