16 February 2019
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang has stressed the need to consolidate the gains of the past with more reforms. Photo: Reuters
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang has stressed the need to consolidate the gains of the past with more reforms. Photo: Reuters

POLICY WATCH: Staying the course on reforms

Encouraged by the recent positive data, China’s leaders plan to push the reforms button further to provide fresh impetus to the economy and lay the ground for long-term sustainable growth. Outlining the need for more action was none other than Premier Li Keqiang {李克強}, who insisted recently that the nation must consolidate the gains of the past with more restructuring and policy initiatives.  

Speaking at a national congress of the All-China Federation of Trade Unions on Oct. 21, Li stressed that stepped up reform will yield more systematic dividends and ensure healthy growth for Asia’s largest economy. Immense potential from quick industrialization and urbanization, as well as the huge space for regional development, is seen as the growth driver for the country in the near future.

At the same time, Li pointed out that the government must continue to transform itself to serve the society better. He called on government agencies and departments to improve their work efficiency and resolve the bottlenecks that are hindering new policy implementation. Officials should focus on the policy goals and achieve the targets by all means, the premier said.

Urging all government departments to devote more resources to resolve the prevailing problems, Li said it is important for the administration to win back public trust by meeting people’s expectations.

Authorities should rely more on market forces to achieve the policy goals, rather than just issuing policy statements and leaving them idle in the hands of lower-level officials, the leader said.

The should be some out-of-the-box thinking to make the policy implementation smooth. That will provide room for market forces to adjust the economic structure, which in turn will make it easier for the government to oversee the market, Li said, while also highlighting the need to focus on the next growth engines for the economy and creating a level-playing field for all players.

Market competition should be in place to facilitate economic upgrade, digging out new growth for domestic consumption, to speed up implementation of new strategy for innovation and to resolve the issue of obsolete industrial production capacities. The government, meanwhile, should encourage financial institutions to support small and micro enterprises to participate in the real economy.

In the first half of this year, the government set the agenda for pushing reform and adjusting the economic structure to deal with the sluggish economic environment globally.

Leveraging on new austerity measures, the government has tried to keep the budget deficit unchanged, while maintaining a prudent fiscal policy with strict control on liquidity. Also, more thought was given to interest rate liberalization and simplification of administrative procedures. The new measures have begun to show some results and several deep-rooted problems in the economy are being tackled.

Data released on Oct. 18 showed China’s gross domestic product climbed 7.8 percent in the third quarter from a year earlier, well above the full-year target of 7.5 percent and faring better than the second-quarter growth of 7.5 percent and the first-quarter pace of 7.7 percent.

While noting the growth recovery, Li also called for more efforts to protect workers’ rights, particularly those of migrant labor. Issues concerning basic social securities, such as pension, medical insurance, subsistence allowances and housing must be properly addressed, he said.

– Contact the reporter at [email protected]


EJ Insight writer

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