Premier Wen Jiabao (C) meets both Chinese and foreign reporters after the closing ceremony of the annual session of the National People's Congress in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Wednesday.
Q: What steps will you take in your term to promote social equity and justice? You often log onto the Internet, there are praises as well as criticism on the performance of the Chinese government and yourself. How do you view the criticism?
A: Equality and justice shine more brightly than sunshine. In the past nine years, we have done a lot of work to promote social equity and justice. On the legal front, we amended the Constitution to include respect and guarantee of human rights. We established a Property Law to protect legal private assets. We also amended the Election Law to make rights of urban areas and rural areas equal. We also abolished the Measures for Assisting Vagrants and Beggars so that migrant workers can enter cities freely.
Second, in rural areas, we abolished the agricultural tax to ease the burden of farmers.
Third, in education, we've made nine-year free compulsory education available all over the country.
Fourth, we established and improved the social security system, including old-age pension, medical care and low-income subsistence allowance. Medical care insurance for working and non-working residents and a new type of rural cooperative medical care cover the whole nation.
In the last year of my term, the government will make every effort to pursue several difficult tasks as follows:
First, formulate an integral plan to reform the income distribution system.
Second, establish and issue regulation on expropriation and compensation of rural land.
Third, extend old-age insurance to the whole country. Fourth, boost poverty relief in poor areas.
Fifth, we've arranged the budget for educational expenditures to account for 4 percent of GDP. We'll make every effort to attain the goal and make sure all expenditures reasonable.
All the power of government is entrusted by the people. Therefore, we should create conditions for people to criticize the government. It feels natural for me to see people's criticism.
In fact, many important decisions of government derive from people's criticism. I even think of inviting representatives who often criticize the government to Zhongnanhai, the Chinese government's central compound, to listen to their advice face to face.
However, there are also slanders about me, which pains me. My individual personality is not understood by them and I feel a bit worried about society. I will press ahead and continue to struggle with courage despite slanders or rumors.
Q:China and the Arab countries have had a long history of relations. I see a wide gap between
A: Regard to the issue of
The Arab people's demand for democracy must be respected. It is a tendency that cannot be held back.
How will the adjustment affect the global economy as the world hopes the high-speed growth of
A: The aim of the adjustment is to advance toward technology progress and labor quality. We target high-quality growth, as well as adjustment in economic structure and development model. The economy will shift to an energy-conserving and environment-protecting model to deliver more benefit to the people.
We set the economic growth target for the 12th Five-Year Plan at 7 percent. The target for 2012 is set in line with the target of the 12th Five-Year Plan.
Q: When can Chinese people elect their leaders directly?
A: I have said on several occasions that we must adhere to the practice of self-governance by villagers in
What has happened shows this has been a successful practice. The Chinese villagers have shown strong enthusiasm in participating in this process and strict methods of election have been formulated on the basis of the law of self-governance by villagers of
I still believe that if the people are able to run the affairs of a village well, gradually they will be able to run the affairs of a township and then a county.
We must continue to encourage people to take full steps to experiment and that can help enhance our people's ability in this regard through these very practices.
I believe that the democratic system of
Q: I am from People's Daily. I've seen a new round of housing market regulation with tough measures. How much will the price drop to meet the target of regulation? Will the regulation be abandoned half way due to local governments' interest?
A: I've reviewed the housing markets regulations in recent years. I think this issue deals with the relationship between the interests of
Regarding the development of the housing market, I hope it will develop healthy and smoothly or it will endanger the entire economy. The price should be considered according to people's income, invest and proper benefits. What I want to say is that the current price is far beyond that goal.
Q: In recent years, you have addressed political reform on many occasions, why have you mentioned it for so many times and what difficulties confront the reform of
A: Yes, I have addressed the topic on many occasions; it's out of a strong sense of responsibility. After the crackdown of the Gang of Four, our party made many resolutions on historic problems and started the reform and opening up. But the mistake of "cultural reform" (1966-76) and the impact of feudalism have not been fully eliminated. As the economy develops, new problems arise, including income disparity, lack of credibility and corruption. To resolve these problems requires economic reform as well as political reform, especially reform of the leadership system of our party and country.
Now the reform is in a critical stage. Without the success of political reform, economic reform cannot be fully achieved, the gains we have attained may be lost, new social problems cannot be resolved fundamentally, and the tragedy of "cultural reform" may happen again. Every party member and leader should fully recognize this urgent task.
Of course, I'm fully aware of the difficulties for political reform. Any reform must involve people's awakening, support and creativity. In a country with a population of 1.3 billion, we should bear in mind the national circumstances, and gradually promote a socialist democracy. Though not easy, the reform must go forward, it cannot stand still or go backward.
I know that people will not only listen to what I say, pay attention to what I believe in, but also care what efforts I make to reach the goal. As long as I have a single breath, I will dedicate myself to the cause of reform.
Q: What's your comment on the election of a new chief executive in the
With respect to the election of a new chief executive, I am confident that Hong Kong residents can elect a leader popular with most
Despite all these difficulties facing Hong Kong, I am confident that Hong Kong people can administer
Q: In the past four years, the mainland and
What is your prospect on the cross-straits ties in 2012?
You told the story of the painting "Dwelling in the
Will you visit
A: I'm very happy to see the cross-Straits ties becoming closer over the years. The 1992 Consensus have seen more solid foundation in terms of politics, economy and culture. The support from people has also become stronger.
To promote peace and development across the Straits especially to promote the business ties, we need to advance the follow-up negotiation of the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement.
We will pay attention to the small- and medium-sized enterprises in
We will also advance cross-Straits financial cooperation including the bank clearing system and mutual investment.
We will pay special attention to Taiwan-invested enterprises on the mainland by helping them upgrade development patterns and expand on the domestic market.
The display of the painting "Dwelling in the
I would love to visit
Q: If there is one thing you can do to ease the trade imbalance between
A: If we are to ease the trade imbalance between the two countries and to resolve the difficulties and frictions in business tie between
The main content of my package of proposals and suggests is as follows:
First, we need to further enhance two-way trade between
Second, the two countries should work together to increase mutual investment. Both sides need to create favorable conditions for mutual investment and reach early agreements on investment protection.
Third, we need to enhance cooperation in high-tech fields covering new materials, new energy sources, energy conservation, environment protection and aviation.
Fourth, we need to enhance our cooperation in infrastructural development. At the same time, we should bring it in line with financial cooperation. That means
Q: This is your last year in office, how would you evaluate your work performance?
A: I have served as premier for nine years, which are by no means easy or ordinary. I often feel there is more work left to do and I have many regrets. I hope people will forget me and all the concrete things I have ever done. Due to my incompetent capability, institutional and other restraints, there are many shortcomings in my work. I will work as a burdened old horse in my last year in office to the last day and make up for my regrets with new achievements to seek the understanding and forgiveness from the Chinese people.
An old Chinese saying goes officials should serve as loyal as they can conscientiously when they are in office and engage in modest self-reflection when their terms end. I will live by this teaching and pass hope to my successors who I am confident will do a better job than me.
In line with the conviction that I will do whatever it takes to serve my country even at the cost of my own life, regardless of fortune or misfortune to myself, I have served my country for 45 years. I have dedicated all my passion, energy and time to my country and my people, and never sought personal gains. I dare to face the people and the history.
The following are topics Premier Wen Jiabao talked about at the press conference.
Local govt debts
Premier Wen Jiabao said on Wednesday that the government's debts are at a controllable and safe level, adding that the increase of debts will be "strictly controlled."
Wen told a press conference that China's debt-to-GDP and budget deficit-to-GDP ratios are at a fairly low level, and they are both lower than that of many developed countries and newly emerging economies.
Wen said that in 2010, the volume of local government debts stood at 10.7 trillion yuan ($1.70 trillion). The figure only increased by 300 million yuan by the end of 2011.
"We will take the local government debts very seriously, and we will not allow it to adversely affect
The majority of government debts is high quality assets, with stable cash flows and promising returns. The debts of some projects can be repaid by their returns, according to Wen.
He said the government will properly handle the debt stock, and strictly control the increase of government debts, adding that revenues and expenditures of local governments must be incorporated into the local governments' budgets and final accounts, and be subject to supervision by the people congresses at the same level.
Wen called for making market play a role in handling local government debts in ways of asset disposals, transfers of projects and selling of equities.
Wang Lijun incident
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said Wednesday the
The central authorities have "taken this matter very seriously" and instructed relevant departments to start investigation immediately after this incident took place, he said at a press conference after the conclusion of the annual parliamentary session.
Wang entered the
So far progress has been made in the investigation and the issue will be handled according to laws and based on facts, Wen said.
"As far as the result of the investigation and how this matter will be handled are concerned, an answer must be given to the people and the result of the investigation should be able to stand the test of law and history," he said.
Acknowledging the achievements made by successive
Since the founding of the People's Republic of
Since the third plenum of the 11th Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and, in particular, the decision on correct handling of relevant historical issues was adopted by the central authorities, the country has established the line of "freeing the mind and seeking truth from facts" and formulated the basic guideline of CPC, he said.
In particular, the country has made a major decision to conduct the reform and opening up, which is crucial for the country's future and destiny, he said.
"Any practice we take must be based on experience and lessons we have gained from history and serve people's interest," he said.
"I believe the people fully recognize this point and I have full confidence of our future."
Talking to critics face to face
Premier Wen Jiabao on Wednesday expressed his willingness to meet with citizen critics of government policies in Zhongnanhai, the seat of the central government.
"I don't feel surprised at all that there have been some critical comments on the Internet about the performance of the government and I think it is only natural for that to happen," Wen said at a press conference after the conclusion of the annual parliamentary session.
The government should create conditions for the people to criticize its work, he said.
The government must seriously reflect on the critical views that people have made and, in fact, the government has often been inspired by such comments from the public when making decisions on major issues, he said.
"I have often thought about inviting some representatives of people, who on regular basis make critical comments about the work of the government, to Zhongnanhai so that we can have face-to-face discussion on issues they are interested in," he said.
Wen said he had tried to do it when soliciting public views on drafting this year's government work report but more efforts should be done.
As the country's premier, Wen admitted that some slanders about him have caused pain, though not disturbing him.
"I will continue to press ahead with my work and uphold my ideals without hesitation and misgiving," he said.
Addressing income disparities
Premier Wen Jiabao said Wednesday the government will take further steps to address the problem of income disparities.
Wen told a press conference that the government will continue to increase the income of urban and rural residents, raise the minimum wage levels so that people's income will be able to rise in line with economic growth and increase in productivity.
He said the government will make adjustment to income distribution, further regulate the income of high-income groups, in particular the pay and bonuses of senior managers of state-owned enterprises and state-owned financial institutions, while raising the proportion of middle-income groups.
He also vowed to further improve the social security system, protect lawful incomes and ban illegal incomes.
To promote income equality, Wen said, the government must create equal conditions for all in terms of education, employment and starting one's own business so that all people will be able to get started from the same starting line
"We must pay close attention to the well-being of the vulnerable groups," Wen said, adding he believes if the living conditions of those people can be improved,
He added the government must also continue reform in the fiscal system and income distribution system, so as to push forward the institutional arrangement for the country to achieve the goal of common prosperity.
Non-public investment into financial sector
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said Wednesday that the government should allow private capital to enter the financial sector and make the process "standardized and open".
"We need to encourage their development, and at the same time put them under strict oversight and supervision," said Wen when commenting on the case of Wu Ying, a businesswoman who was once listed among the country's richest women and faced death penalty for cheating investors out of several hundred million yuan.
Promoting social justice
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said the government will continue to work hard to promote social justice during his last year in office.
Income disparity and judicial injustice have incurred many complaints from the people, Wen told a press conference right after the conclusion of this year's parliamentary session.
"We must continue to press ahead with various jobs to promote the social equity and justice," Wen said.
The government will formulate an overall plan for the reform of income distribution system, and introduce a regulation on the expropriation and compensation of collectively owned rural land, Wen said.
The government will also extend the coverage of old-age pension program to the entire population, and make efforts on poverty elimination, Wen said.
On education, Wen said the government will strive to meet the target of raising government expenditure on education to 4 percent of the country's gross domestic product (GDP).
Clergy self-immolations in Tibet
"The young Tibetans are innocent and we feel deeply distressed by their behaviors," Wen told a press conference after the conclusion of the annual parliamentary session.
The so-called Tibetan government-in-exile in Dharamsala of India is in nature a theocratic one, both under the direct control of Dalai Lama or under his indirect influence, he said.
"Its purpose is to separate
"We should respect the Tibetan compatriots' freedom of religious belief and their religious belief is protected by the laws," he said.
Wen also noted that
Chinese government has taken strong measures and drafted new plans to accelerate the development in
The Premier stressed that the government should pay attention to protect
"We must treat all of our Tibetan compatriots with equals and respect and make continous improvement of our work in this field," said Wen.
Ex-tycoon death sentence
GDP target not low
Premier Wen Jiabao said Wednesday that the 7.5 percent GDP growth target for 2012 is a result of the government's proactive macro-control and can not be viewed as low.
Indeed, the Chinese economy faces slowing trend due to impacts from the European debt crisis and contracting overseas demands, Wen noted.
Under such circumstances, to lower the growth mainly aims to facilitate economic restructuring, the premier said.
Premier Wen Jiabao said he believes
"The election of the fourth term Chief Executive of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) is currently underway," Wen said at a press conference after the conclusion of the annual parliamentary session.
"I believe that as long as the principle of openness, justice and fairness is observed and relevant legal procedures are complied with, Hong Kong will elect a chief executive who enjoys the support of the vast majority of
Home price controls
Premier Wen Jiabao said on Wednesday that the country will not slacken it efforts in regulating the housing prices, which he considered still "far from a reasonable level."
"If we develop the housing market blindly, a bubble will emerge in the housing sector. When the bubble bursts, not only the housing market will be adversely affected, it will weigh on the entire Chinese economy," said Wen at a press conference after the conclusion of
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said Wednesday that
Wen warned at a press conference after the conclusion of the annual parliamentary session that tragedies like the Cultural Revolution may happen in
The country risks losing the results of the reform and opening up over the past three decades without further reforms, as new problems such as unfair income distribution, lack of integrity and corruption, have not been resolved.
"Reform has now come to a critical stage," Wen said, adding reforms must go forward, rather than stand still or even go backward.
RMB exchange rate
The real effective exchange rate of Renminbi may have reached its equilibrious level after rising by 30 percent since
The exchange rate of yuan in the
"That indicates the real effective exchange rate of yuan may have reached its equilibrious level," said the premier.
Regarding the exchange rate of yuan, an issue of high interests to the
He reiterated that
Cooperation is the way to address trade imbalance between
"I believe that cooperation between
Wen said the two countries should create favorable conditions for mutual investment and enhance cooperation in infrastructure construction.
Wen also proposed expanding cooperation in high-tech fields, including new energy, new materials, energy conservation and aviation.
Premier Wen Jiabao said Wednesday he hoped deep-rooted common cultural bond would help resolve the merely decades-long political grouches across the Taiwan Straits.
"It's my sincere hope that the two sides will work together to promote people-to-people and cultural contacts," Wen said.
Wen said he is willing to visit
"But it depends on the circumstances at that time," Wen said.
"Feel sorry" for
Chinese premier said on Wednesday that he should assume responsibility for the problems that had occurred in
"I feel truly sorry," Wen Jiabao said at a press conference held in the Great Hall of the People in
"Due to incompetent abilities and institutional and other factors, there is still much room for improvement in my work," Wen said.
However, Wen said he had never committed any intentional error in his work because of dereliction of duty.
2012 most difficult yet most promising year
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said Wednesday that it is important for
"In the face of the deepening international financial crisis and the European debt crisis, what is most important is that we run our own affairs well," Wen told a press conference after the conclusion of the annual parliamentary session.
Wen said the year 2012 might be the most difficult yet most promising year.
"The people needs the government to be calm, resolute and trustworthy,and the government needs the people's trust, support and help," Wen said.This is the last time for Wen to meet the press after the National People's Congress and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference sessions.
"In my last year in office, I will not waiver and carry out my duties,and will remain true to my conviction," Wen said.
"I will always be with the people," the premier said.