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Premier Li meets the press: Full transcript of questions and answers

Ministry of Foreign Affairs | Updated: 2019-03-16 19:22

China News Service: The Chinese government has been taking measures to improve living standards over the years. However, there are still complaints about some issues concerning quality of life. Next year we will complete the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects. So in addition to poverty alleviation, what concrete progress can we look forward to in all these livelihood areas and what plan does the government have to improve people's well-being?

Premier Li: You asked a fairly big question. Any issue related to people's lives is of paramount importance and there are still a lot of things in this respect the government must do. We will continue to improve people's well-being in the process of developing the Chinese economy. We must put our focus on these key areas and major difficulties faced by our people. A big data survey suggests that issues related to aged and child care are still commonly felt difficulties for our people and this must draw closer attention from the government.

The number of senior citizens at the age of 60 or above in China has reached 250 million, the number of those at or above 65, 170 million, and there are up to 100 million children in China below six years old. Services targeting these populations are still lacking, and they affect most of the Chinese families. The difficulty of insufficient child care services is particularly acute after the implementation of the two-child policy. When it comes to aged care facilities, on average, there are only three beds for every 100 senior citizens. Some surveys suggest that in big cities, one would have to wait until 90 years old before he or she can get a place in a nursing home. The increase of such facilities is lagging behind the growing needs for them.

How does the government plan to address this acute problem? In my local inspection trips, I have seen that some good experience has been gained in this respect, that is, to vigorously develop community-based providers of such services. If there can be accessible, quality services that are safe, reliable, and beneficial to all, they will certainly be very popular among the targeted populations. In this respect, the government needs to develop innovative mechanisms to better match market supply with our people's demand. The government also needs to provide policy support. For example, we may provide public rental housing units for free to private operators as venues of facilities for providing assisted meal, assisted mobility, day care, rehabilitation, and even open senior colleges. The government may also provide tax exemption or tax-free treatment for these service providers in terms of their expenses on water, electricity and natural gas. These entities are all working together with the government to address our people's actual needs. The main job of community-level officials and competent departments is to ensure fair market access and enhance oversight so that these services will be both safe and reliable, and those who break the rules will be driven out of the market. In this way, we will be able to keep our senior citizens, our children and all families reassured.

When our senior citizens have a decent life in their retirement and our children a carefree childhood, all families will lead a happier life and our young and middle-aged people will have greater energy to tap into their entrepreneurship. I do recognize that there are still a great deal of things the government should do in areas related to people's lives. We will do our level best within the realms of possibility to tackle the key concerns and difficulties that our people face.

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