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  China makes big headway in economic sector, says Premier Li at annual news conference
BEIJING, March 16 (INP): Chinese Premier Li Keqiang here addressed annual press conference at the end of National Peoples Congress’s session, highlighting diplomatic position on various regional and international issues, as well as his country’s recent achievements in economic sector. Li said his big achievement over the past four years since he took office as premier was that he has kept Chinese growth rate at a reasonable range. Fears last year about a hard landing appear to have transformed into sighs of relief as the Chinese economy stabilises, largely thanks to government-backed infrastructure spending. Li said he had heard too much talk of a “hard landing”. “The talk that there will be a hard landing in China should end now,” he said. Li added that China’s steady economic growth over the past four years was not achieved by all-out stimulus, but by upgrading industry and increasing consumption. As for the economic growth target of “about 6.5 per cent” for 2017, Li said the growth rate was “not low, and not easy [to achieve].” As such, Li said China would remain as an important force empowering global economic growth. Li said the biggest challenge was to reduce administrative procedures and red tape. He gave the example of one local government where 108 different chops were needed to gain a local authority permit. This had been reduced to one, he said. Li warned “tensions on the Korean peninsula may lead to conflict” and bring harm to all parties.“It’s common sense that no one wants to see chaos on their doorstep,” he said. China is committed to denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and proposes all parties de-escalate tensions through dialogue and consultation, Premier Li Keqiang said. Li told that the situation in the Korean Peninsula and even broader Northeast Asia has recently become tense. "Tensions may lead to conflicts, which will bring harm to all parties involved," Li said. "It is just a common sense that no one wants to see chaos at his doorstep." China hopes all parties make concerted efforts to de-escalate tensions and get issues back to the track of dialogue in order to find proper solutions, he said. China has fully complied with UN resolutions on the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, and is a staunch supporter of upholding the international nuclear non-proliferation regime, the premier said. To a question, Premier Li Keqiang said China will set up a special fund to pool together the country's finest scientists to find the "unique" causes of smog that frequently hovers over north China's winter skies. China will fight and win the battle against smog but it takes time, Li told a press conference held after conclusion of the annual legislative session. He said scientists told him during the session that they have not yet fully understood the causes of the winter smog in north China, which are quite unique in the world. The Chinese premier took a wide range of questions during the press conference, including on the economy and China-US relations. He highlighted the damage that any trade war between the two countries would inflict, saying American companies would be the first to suffer. “We don’t want to see any trade war breaking out between the two nations. That wouldn’t make our trade fairer,” Li said. “Our hope on the Chinese side is that no matter what bumps this relationship hits, we hope it’ll continue to move forward in a positive direction.” Li confirmed that Beijing and Washington were in talks to arrange a summit between President Xi Jinping and his US counterpart Donald Trump. Media reports have suggested the meeting could be held at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida. INP/J/AH/LK
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