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Premier Wen Jiabao's Meeting with the Press
2009/03/13

On the morning of 13 March 2009, a press conference of the Second Session of the Eleventh National People's Congress was held in the Great Hall of the People. At the invitation of Mr. Li Zhaoxing, spokesman of the NPC Session, Mr. Wen Jiabao, Premier of the State Council met journalists from home and abroad and answered their questions.

Premier Wen: Good morning, friends from the news media. This year's two sessions were held at a crucial time in the fight against the international financial crisis. The National People's Congress has approved the report on the work of the government and endorsed the government's package plan to tackle the financial crisis. For me, this is a heartening moment. I recall that on 24 September 2008 in New York, I said that "confidence is more important than gold and currency". At the time, the world seemed at a loss. And we were not clear about the future development of the financial crisis.

Now in less than half a year, we have already introduced a package plan to tackle the crisis. To implement the plan, I still believe first and foremost, we need to have stronger confidence. Only stronger confidence can give us courage and strength. And only courage and strength can help us overcome the difficulties. I hope this press conference will be one that boosts and spreads confidence. This is the conscience and responsibility that every journalist should have, and also the expectation of the people. Do not regret that the spring is departing; come next year, it will be twice as enchanting. I hope that China and the whole world will be better off next year. Thank you.

China Daily: Mr. Premier, to tackle the international financial crisis, the government has introduced a 4 trillion RMB Yuan stimulus plan. But we have noted that in the report you did not introduce any new stimulus plan, contrary to what we had expected. Does it mean that the first stimulus plan has been working quite well? Will there be any new economic stimulus plans in future? Besides, out of the 4 trillion RMB Yuan, only 1.18 trillion comes from the Central Government. How to secure the source of funding for the rest of the plan? Of the 4 trillion RMB Yuan, how much is for previously planned investment, and how much is for new investment?

Premier Wen: Your question is very important. A rumor and misunderstanding have sent global stock exchanges on a roller-coaster ride. As a matter of fact, some people did not get a full understanding of China's package plan. Let me take this opportunity to give you a brief explanation.

First, thanks to our efforts over the past six months, we have formulated a four-pronged package plan. It includes massive increase of government investment, wide-ranging industrial adjustment and rejuvenation plans, strong scientific and technological support and substantial improvement of social security. These four aspects, which are interrelated, form an integral and indivisible whole. This demonstrates that our plan takes into account both the near term and long term needs and addresses not only the symptoms but also the root causes.

Second, massive government investment is the most direct, forceful and efficient way to boost growth. The 4 trillion RMB Yuan involved in this two-year plan includes 1.18 trillion of direct investment from the Central Government. It also includes non-governmental and private investment as well as bank lending attracted to the investment projects in the course of their implementation. I can tell you explicitly that the 1.18 trillion RMB Yuan is totally for new investment. In this year's budget, we have already earmarked 591.5 billion RMB Yuan for this purpose.

Third, the Central Government will invest the 1.18 trillion RMB Yuan mainly in projects concerning people's well-being, technological transformation, environmental protection, major infrastructure development and post-quake recovery and reconstruction. Programs in quite a number of other areas are not included in this two-year plan. For example, our actual cut in tax and administrative fees will exceed 500 billion RMB Yuan and reach nearly 600 billion RMB Yuan. We will increase the old age pensions for retirees from enterprises. We will introduce a performance-based wage system to raise wages for 12 million teachers engaged in compulsory education. We will increase farmers' incomes, and broaden the scope and raise the level of subsidies. In the next three years, we will invest 850 billion RMB Yuan in reforming the medical and health system. None of these programs are included in the 4 trillion RMB Yuan investment plan.

Fourth, some projects in this two year investment plan were indeed previously identified in China's 11th Five-Year Plan, such as highway, railway and other infrastructure development. These projects have already gone through rigorous feasibility studies and necessary preparations have been made. The development of these projects should be accelerated. That is why we have been able to identify so many infrastructure development projects in such a short span of time. There are also new projects such as the government-subsidized housing programs. We plan to resolve the housing difficulties for 7.5 million households and transform the shantytowns for 2.4 million households in the next three years. All these projects have been evaluated and will be made public. Supervision will be present throughout the process of their implementation.

Fifth, in the face of this financial crisis, we have prepared ourselves for a protracted and difficult battle and we have reserved policy leeway for ourselves. In other words, we have prepared plans for even more difficult scenarios and we have adequate ammunition at hand. In light of the changing situation, we may introduce new economic stimulus policies at any time.

Wall Street Journal: Good morning, Mr. Premier. I have two questions. China is now the largest creditor of the United States and how would you comment on the measures taken by the US government to tackle the international financial crisis? Some people believe that the huge debt of the United States will lead to a depreciated US dollar. Are you worried about China's investment in the United States? If so, what is China's strategy to diversify its investment risks? Secondly, can you give your word that China will not let the RMB Yuan devalue, at least not in the short term? Will China give financial support to the IMF?

Premier Wen: You speak very good Chinese and you have asked three questions in a row. China is indeed the largest creditor of the United States. The United States is the largest economy in the world. We follow very closely the economic situation in the United States. The Obama administration has adopted a series of measures to tackle the financial crisis and we have our expectations for the effects of the measures.

Since we have lent huge amount of money to the United States, we of course have a strong interest in the safety of our assets. To be honest, I am a bit worried. In this connection, I would like to urge the United States, through you, to keep its credibility and honor its commitments to ensure the safety of China's assets.

It's known to all that thanks to our reform and development over the years, we have accumulated large foreign exchange reserves, which shows China's economic strength. On foreign exchange reserves, our top priority is to safeguard our national interests. We always adhere to the principle of ensuring the safety, liquidity and good value of our reserves, fend off risks and adopt a diversified strategy in this regard. At the same time, we also need to take into account stability in international financial markets, because these two aspects are interrelated.

As for your question about the devaluation of the RMB, it does not accord with what has actually taken place. Since our exchange rate reform in July 2005, the RMB has appreciated against the US dollar by 21%. Though the RMB has not appreciated that much recently against the US dollar, it is in fact still appreciating as a result of drastic depreciation of European and Asian currencies. This has also put increasing pressure on China's export. Our goal is to keep the RMB basically stable at a reasonable and balanced level. But the decision is for the market and China itself to make. No country is in a position to pressurize the RMB to appreciate or depreciate.

We follow very closely the issue of increasing contribution to the IMF. We believe this issue is very complicated. I would like to spell out a few principles. First, it is important to reform the internal governance structure of the IMF, fend off the financing and investment risks, put into practice the principle of matching obligations with rights, and pay more attention to the interests of developing countries. Second, to increase contribution to the IMF is not a matter for one particular country. We believe that member countries of the IMF should assume the responsibilities together in accordance with the quotas they have. Third, other international financial institutions also need to employ a variety of means to provide financing. Fourth, the decision of a country on whether to increase contribution to the IMF should be made in light of the actual conditions of that particular country and on a voluntary basis.

Hong Kong ATV: According to your report on the work of the government, the Central Government will fully support and consolidate HK's position as an international financial center. And the Central Government will promote an appropriate level of diversity in Macao's economy. We have also noted at the end of last year, the Central Government introduced the outlines of the plan for the reform and development of the Pearl River Delta. People from various sectors in Hong Kong and Macao have high hopes for these measures of the Central Government. We have also seen, as you just said, the financial crisis is still spreading and is yet to bottom out and the negative impact is now being felt more acutely in the two open economies of Hong Kong and Macao. Will the Central Government introduce more new plans to support the efforts of Hong Kong and Macao to tackle the financial crisis?

Premier Wen: The Central Government is very much concerned about the difficulties of Hong Kong and Macao in the financial crisis. I have proposed several measures in my report. I want to make a few points more clearly. As Hong Kong is an international financial center, what is most important in tackling the financial crisis is to maintain financial stability and its position as an international financial center. To this end, first, it is important to strengthen financial cooperation between the mainland and Hong Kong. I can tell you here that the competent Central Government departments have already formulated the pilot program to use the RMB Yuan as the settlement currency for trade in goods. The program, once approved by the State Council, will be implemented as quickly as possible. Second, it is important to accelerate Hong Kong and Macao-related infrastructure development projects on the mainland. I want to state clearly here that the issue of financing has been resolved for the Hong Kong-Zhuhai-Macao bridge project. Intensive preparations are now underway and construction will begin before the end of this year. Third, a new supplement to CEPA will be signed this year mainly to further open the mainland's market to Hong Kong's service sector. Fourth, the Central Government has approved the long-term plan for the reform and development of the Pearl River Delta. The plan will help the mainland, Hong Kong and Macao to build on their respective advantages, step up cooperation and draw on each other's strengths. Fifth, the Central Government is prepared to take new steps to support an appropriate level of diversity in Macao's economy.

Hong Kong and Macao have gained experience in tackling the Asian financial crisis. We have full confidence that under the leadership of the governments of the Special Administrative Regions, people in Hong Kong and Macao are capable of rising up to this financial crisis, overcoming the difficulties and maintaining prosperity and stability. Finally, I would like to state once again that the motherland will always provide strong backing to Hong Kong and Macao and we will do all we can to support economic development of Hong Kong and Macao.

People's Daily: Good Morning, Mr. Premier. In the face of the impact of the international financial crisis, you have said on various occasions and you stressed just now that confidence is more important than gold. I would like to ask you, Mr. Premier, where does your confidence come from? Besides, in your report on the work of the government, you set a target of achieving a GDP growth rate of about 8%. From home and abroad, there are people who are doubtful about the target of securing 8% growth. Mr. Premier, what is your view on this issue?

Premier Wen: People are very much interested in whether we will be able to meet the target of achieving a GDP growth of about 8% this year. I think it will be indeed a difficult job. This being said, the target is still achievable with considerable efforts. I think we need to look at the target of achieving an economic growth of about 8% from the following three perspectives: First, we need to take into account its necessity and possibility. Second, it is the commitment and responsibility of the government. Third, it is a hallmark of our confidence and hope. Setting a target is like installing a compass on a sailboat. Without a compass, the boat will not know in which direction it is heading or when it will arrive at its destination. There is a saying that goes to the effect that such a boat will only encounter headwinds rather than tailwinds.

I have already elaborated on the ability to meet this target of about 8% growth in my report. In addition, I want to stress three points: First, China is now in a stage of accelerating industrialization, marketization and urbanization. It is also in a stage of expanding consumption and upgrading consumption pattern. Among China's 1.3 billion population, eight hundred million are farmers. If you take a look at China's countryside, you will agree with me that we can never over-invest in rural areas. Given China's population and size, its market potential is greater than that of European countries and the United States. Second, China has abundant labor resources and many advantages in terms of talented people. Although we now face employment difficulties, in a longer-term perspective, we have an important asset for future development. Third, thanks to our reform and opening up over the past 30 years, and particularly our reform over the past ten years, China's financial system is basically sound and stable. This has given strong support to our economic development. Let me make a comparison. While the United States and European countries are fighting the battle on two fronts, the financial sector and the real economy, China only needs to watch out for financial risks and does not need to use money from fiscal resources to plug the holes in the financial sector. As a matter of fact, at this point and time, China's banking sector has extended a large amount of credit to boost economic development. You all know the figures: in November last year, new loans stood at 470 billion RMB Yuan, in December last year 770 billion, in January this year 1.62 trillion, and in February, 1.07 trillion.

In fact, what is most important is that thanks to the efforts over the past few months, the Chinese people have begun to feel warm in their hearts. I believe warm hearts will warm up the economy. I know full well that no country can stay immune to the negative impact of this financial crisis and no country can overcome the difficulties out of the context of the international economic impact. But we know one thing, that is, one would better fetch a flint than beg for a light and one would better dig a well for oneself than beg for water from others. That's why I hope all the Chinese people will send warmth to the Chinese economy with their warm hearts.

Financial Times: You mentioned in your previous response China has huge domestic needs for spending, particularly in rural areas. In that context, does it make sense for China to have two trillion dollars of reserves, which is money you effectively lent to richer countries? Second question, can I ask about Tibet? In the last week in particular, there have been extraordinary security measures not only in the Tibetan Autonomous Region but in other Tibetan parts of China. Given these very extreme security measures, does this not indicate that there are serious problems in your policies in these regions of your country?

Premier Wen: As for the first question, I already talked about the matter when I answered questions from a journalist of FT in the United Kingdom. But still I want to make some comment. China's foreign exchange reserves are earned the hard way by the Chinese people. The reserves have enhanced China's capacity of international payment and increased China's economic strength. But the foreign exchange reserves are in fact foreign exchange assets and at the same time, RMB liabilities of the People's Bank of China. They are not a source of money for fiscal spending. The foreign exchange reserves should be used mainly in foreign investment and foreign trade. We have already adopted a principle of diversification in managing our foreign exchange reserves. For now, our foreign exchange reserves are generally safe. We will open wider to the rest of the world, make good use of both the domestic and international markets and resources, and make the most of our foreign exchange reserves, so that the reserves will not only maintain their safety, liquidity and good value, but also support the national development and improvement of people's lives.

The situation in Tibet is on the whole peaceful and stable. People in Tibet hope to live and work in peace and contentment. China's Constitution and the Law on Regional Ethnic Autonomy protect the freedoms and rights of people in Tibet, including their freedom of religious belief. Over the years, the state has increased fiscal input in Tibet to accelerate its economic development and improve the livelihood of its farmers and herdsmen. We will remain firmly committed to the opening-up policy in Tibet, as it meets the need of Tibet's own development. Contrary to what you said, peace, stability and continuous progress in Tibet have shown that we have adopted the right policies.

CNA from Taiwan: Good Morning, Mr. Premier. My question is about the cross-Straits economic cooperation agreement. Both sides of the Taiwan Straits have paid close attention to this matter. I would like to know, Mr. Premier, is it possible to sign such an agreement before the end of this year? If it is signed, does it mean that Taiwan will be able to participate in the ASEAN Plus One mechanism smoothly? My second question is on Taiwan's participation in the World Health Assembly. Mr. Premier, you said in your report on the work of the government that fair and reasonable arrangements will be made through consultations. I would like to ask Mr. Premier to kindly analyze for people in Taiwan the possibility of Taiwan's participation in the World Health Assembly this year. Another question, which is more personal, Mr. Premier, you know Taiwan has rich and diverse tourism resources. If you have an opportunity to visit Taiwan, where would you like to go?

Premier Wen: I would like to first share with you one fact. Taiwan and the mainland have very close economic ties. It is fair to say that our business ties are indivisible. Take last year for example, despite the international financial crisis, the two-way trade volume was nearly 130 billion US dollars, with Taiwan running a surplus of 77.8 billion US dollars. Taiwanese businesses have set up over 30,000 enterprises on the mainland, with a total investment of 47 billion US dollars. Given our close ties, we should step up cooperation in a joint endeavor to tackle the crisis. In my report, I said that we will accelerate normalization of cross-Straits economic relations and facilitate the signing of a comprehensive agreement on economic cooperation, and gradually establish economic cooperation mechanisms tailored to both sides of the Straits. To put it in a more in-depth way, the agreement and the mechanisms should be aligned with three things. First, they should be aligned with the course of development of cross-Straits relations. Second, they should be aligned with the needs of cross-Straits economic cooperation and trade. Third, they should be aligned with the features of the economic structures of the two sides. In short, we want to bring about mutually beneficial and win-win outcomes. We sincerely hope that the two sides of the Taiwan Straits will intensify their consultations to sign such an agreement in an appropriate way and establish cooperation mechanisms that serve both sides.

Taiwan is a treasure island of the motherland, which I have long cherished the hope to visit. I sincerely hope that I will have an opportunity to travel to Taiwan to see more of the island. I want to go to Mount Ali. I want to go to the Sun Moon Lake. I want to visit more places on the island and meet the compatriots in Taiwan. Although I am already 67 years old this year, if it is possible, I would like to go to Taiwan. I may no longer be able to walk, but I will still go even if I have to crawl.

In the report on the work of the government, I said clearly that we will make fair and reasonable arrangements on the issue of Taiwan's participation in the activities of some international organizations concerning the interests of compatriots in Taiwan, such as the World Health Organization. We are willing to have consultations on this matter.

ITAR-TASS: Good morning, Mr. Premier. The prime ministers' meeting of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization will be held in Beijing this year. China will be the host. What do you think are the most pressing issues? What are the hottest issues? What measures do you believe member states of this organization can take to step up economic cooperation and particularly to tackle the financial crisis together? In the Chinese language, the word "crisis" not only means danger but also has a meaning of opportunity. What do you think are the opportunities for China in the ongoing international financial crisis? When China gets out of the crisis, will it take a more important position in the international economic system?

Premier Wen: We have noted that member states of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization have been impacted to varying degrees by the international financial crisis. Member states of this organization should strengthen cooperation to tackle the crisis together. Given our geographical proximity and our complementary strengths, we are fully capable of tiding over the current difficulties through cooperation. To illustrate my point, let me give you two examples. The first example is that not long ago, we signed with Russia a package agreement on oil cooperation and financing arrangements, which has resolved various issues in our oil cooperation. The second example is that we have reached consensus with Kazakhstan on strengthening financial, energy and resources cooperation. We hope an agreement can be signed this year. Some of the SCO countries are rich in resources and energy, some are strong in science and technology, including high and new technologies, while some are still fairly underdeveloped and need a helping hand. I think we can step up cooperation in energy, resources, transportation and other infrastructure projects and in agricultural and high-tech fields.

You have the same understanding of the word "opportunity" as we do. We believe our economy faces enormous challenges and also opportunities for further development. If we manage the situation well, take the right steps and implement the measures promptly, resolutely and forcefully, the Chinese economy will withstand this difficult test and display even stronger vitality. I really hope that China's economy will look up at an early date. Like you said, sometimes things may seem pretty bad, but if you work hard, there will be light at the end of the tunnel. We must act rather than sit idly by.

China News Service: Good morning, Mr. Premier. China will see a record budget deficit of 950 billion RMB Yuan. The local government budget will, for the first time, register a deficit of 200 billion RMB Yuan. But in fact, the local governments have been running large amounts of hidden debt. Are the fiscal risks within control?

Premier Wen: Let me answer your question from three different angles. First, our fiscal deficit is still within control and our debt level is safe. This has to do with the fact that we have kept reducing the deficit in recent years. In 2003, the fiscal deficit was 319.8 billion RMB Yuan, accounting for 2.6% of the GDP. In 2008, our deficit was down to 180 billion RMB Yuan, or 0.6% of the GDP. In 2003, we issued T-bonds worth 140 billion RMB Yuan and in 2008, only 30 billion RMB Yuan. Economic development and the increase in fiscal revenue over the past few years have expanded the room for more deficit and debt. Second, we need to have an in-depth understanding of the importance of the proactive fiscal policy. The most direct, forceful and efficient way to tackle the financial crisis now is to increase fiscal expenditure. And the faster, the better. There is another side of the coin. If we can prevent an economic slump, with the economy looking up, the fiscal revenue will increase. This is the dialectical approach we need to apply in viewing the issue of fiscal deficit. Third, we must follow two principles in increasing fiscal spending. First, it must be used to address the most important, crucial and pressing issues in countering the financial crisis. Second, it must leave behind a valuable asset to the future generations. In the entire process of the fiscal operations, we must enhance supervision and regulation of both central and local government spending. The whole process must be made transparent to the public.

NHK: Thank you, Prime Minister. My first question is about stability in China. In China, because of the financial crisis, employment situation is getting serious as many migrant workers lose jobs and university students cannot find their jobs. So what is your perspective on the employment situation in this year? How do you have confidence to maintain stability of the society under the situation? And my second question is about stability in the region. Now North Korea or DPRK is preparing for launching a ballistic missile early next month. What is your view on this launch of ballistic missile and what will you talk in the meeting with coming DPRK Prime Minister Mr. Kim Yong-il?

Premier Wen: The unemployment issue we face is a very serious one. The reason why we have adopted a package plan and increased fiscal spending is to promote economic development at its root. What is most important in resolving the unemployment issue is to vigorously support the development of small and medium-sized enterprises, because they provide 90% of the jobs. We have formulated specific policies to address the unemployment issue for college graduates and rural migrant workers. We must spare no effort to implement the policies. I can tell you that from the second half of last year to the first two months of this year, despite the increase of jobless people and the return of a large number of rural migrant workers to their home villages, our society has on the whole been stable. We will continue to put job creation high on our economic and social agenda and take strong measures in this regard. I once said that for college graduates and rural migrant workers, a job concerns not only their livelihood but also dignity. The government will take this issue very seriously and never underestimate its importance.

As for the situation on the Korean Peninsula, I believe what is most important is to actively advance the Six-Party Talks, resolve the key issues affecting the talks, and promote the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. Only by so doing, will it be possible to maintain security and stability on the peninsula and ensure security and stability in Northeast Asia. We hope the countries involved in the Six-Party Talks will build consensus, bear in mind the bigger picture, properly handle their differences and refrain from actions that may escalate tension. The Chinese Government will stay in close touch with the parties and increase consultations to further advance the sound progress of the Six-Party Talks. The DPRK is a friendly neighbor of China with which we have a traditional friendship. Mr. Kim Yong-il, the Prime Minister of the DPRK, will soon visit China at my invitation. We will have a full exchange of views on how to deepen the friendship and cooperation between the two countries and on regional and international issues of mutual interest.

Le Figaro: Mr. Prime Minister, Tibet is the focus these days. The US Congress, the Obama Administration and European Parliament ask China to resume talks with Dalai Lama. Of course, China asserts that it is an internal affair, but what is your position on this issue? Are you ready to restart talks with the Dalai Lama and to work on his demand for real autonomy? And this issue has made relations between China and France quite cold for a few months since last September. How do you see the future of this relationship? Do you see a warm meeting between French President Nicolas Sarkozy and President Hu Jintao in London beside the G-20 Summit? And you said many times that France is responsible for this situation and asked to repair the links. What do you concretely expect from France?

Premier Wen: Tibet is an inalienable part of China's territory. Tibet-related issues are exclusively China's internal affairs that brook no foreign interference. This is our principled position. Our policy towards the Dalai Lama is consistent and clear-cut. If he stops his separatist activities, we are willing to have contact and consultations with his representatives. This door is always open. Last year, under very difficult circumstances, we had three rounds of contact and consultations at the request of the Dalai side. Such contact and consultations may continue. For the consultations to produce substantive results, it is important that the Dalai Lama show sincerity. We are fully justified to say that the Dalai Lama is not merely a religious figure but a political exile. The so-called "Government-in-Exile" in Dharamsala is in fact an illegal theocratic "government" directly controlled by him. The Dalai Lama, who has been traveling around the world, is quite capable of misleading some political figures. Some Western countries are also trying to use him. When we view the Dalai Lama, we should not only listen to what he says but also watch what he does. I just want to use one example to illustrate my point. A couple of days ago, when the Dalai Lama tried to refute Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi's remarks at a press conference, he denied ever saying that the Chinese troops should be withdrawn from Tibet or that the Han people should move out of Tibet. This is nothing but a ploy to mislead the public. I would like to refer you to the "five-point peace plan for Tibet" released by the Dalai Lama in the United States in 1987 and the "new seven-point proposal" he made in Strasbourg, France in 1988. He made it clear in the proposals that China's armed forces and military installations should withdraw from Tibet, ethnic Han people should immediately stop moving into Tibet and those who had already settled there should move out. This is written in black and white. The Dalai Lama may correct his position, but he can never deny what he said.

Over the past 45 years since the establishment of diplomatic ties between China and France, despite some twists and turns, the relationship has on the whole moved forward. The current problem was caused mainly by the French leader's high-profile meeting with the Dalai Lama. This is something that concerns the core interest of China and was an affront to the Chinese people. We hope the French side will make clear its stance on Tibet-related issues and work for the improvement of its relations with China as quickly as possible. This serves not only the interests of both China and France but also the interests of China-EU relations.

CCTV: Good morning, Mr. Premier. When we do interviews, we hate to hear the comment that something is an institutional problem. It is tantamount to saying it cannot be solved at the present time. At this year's two sessions, many NPC deputies and CPPCC members have expressed similar concerns. As the Central Government and local governments are focusing all their energy and resources on boosting domestic demand and ensuring economic growth, will they slow down the pace of reform? What considerations does the Central Government have to deepen reform and remove some of the institutional barriers?

Premier Wen: In tackling the financial crisis, we must not slow down reform. On the contrary, we should speed up reform. Only by resolving the institutional and structural problems, will it be possible to ensure the implementation of the various measures. We should continue to advance economic restructuring. The main objective is to further improve the socialist market economy. To be more specific, we need to not only adopt strong macroeconomic regulatory measures, but also give full play to the basic role of market forces in allocating resources. We will not only need massive fiscal investment by the government, but also encourage the development of private enterprises and private investment. We need to not only implement the plans for adjusting and revitalizing various industries, but also pay special attention to motivating and energizing the enterprises. We also need to actively advance political restructuring. I believe what is most important now is to make efforts in the following three areas. First, we need to continue to develop the socialist democracy to protect the freedoms and rights of the people. Second, we need to press ahead with the reform of the judicial system to promote social equity and justice. Third, we need to strengthen supervision by various entities so that the government will be run according to law and placed under supervision.

South African Broadcasting Corporation: Thank you, Premier. How can the upcoming G-20 summit create more opportunities for the developing countries to develop more cooperation between them and what needs to be in place to ensure that developing countries have more of a say during the financial crisis?

Premier Wen: In fighting the financial crisis, developing countries have encountered the greatest difficulties and they are more likely to be overlooked. Attention and assistance to developing countries, particularly the least developed countries, should be put high on the agenda of the G-20 financial summit. The Millennium Development Goals should not be compromised. When I presided over the ASEM Summit, I heard the leader of a developing country say that sometimes it is much easier for some developed countries to approve an investment program involving hundreds of billions of dollars than allocate funding to support developing countries in meeting the MDGs. That's why I stress that the MDGs must not be compromised. Developed countries should pay more attention to giving financial and policy support to developing countries.

China is the largest developing country. By 2008, we had fulfilled our commitment to cancel the debts of 46 LDCs exceeding 40 billion RMB Yuan and given over 200 billion RMB Yuan in assistance to other developing countries. Last year, at the UNGA meeting, I made a solemn commitment on behalf of the Chinese Government that we would cancel the outstanding debts of the LDCs which were to mature at the end of 2008 and levy zero tariff on 95% of their exports to China. China was one of the first countries to contribute 30 million US dollars to the FAO for the establishment of a development investment fund. We will build more hospitals and schools for Africa, receive more African students, and send more medical workers and teachers to the LDCs in Africa. I hope in this once-in-a-century financial crisis, the LDCs will not become a forgotten corner, because poverty in those countries is not only a source of suffering for their own people, but also a cause of concern for developed countries and a destabilizing factor for the whole world.

Thank you.

The press conference was held in the central hall on the third floor of the Great Hall of the People and lasted over 140 minutes. At the end of the press conference, Premier Wen Jiabao walked into the audience and shook hands and exchanged greetings with the journalists. More than 1,000 Chinese and foreign journalists attended the press conference.

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