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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

Xinhua News Agency: The year 2018 marked the 40th anniversary of China's reform and opening-up, putting China's reform at a new starting point. There have been new hopes, both at home and abroad, for China to accelerate its reform agenda. What concrete actions will be taken to deepen reform this year? What specific measures will be adopted to improve China's business environment?

Premier Li: Through 40 years of reform and opening-up, China has made remarkable achievements, delivering benefits to its entire population. We intend to stay on this path and will pursue our reform at greater depth and breadth. We will continue to develop our socialist market economy, and pursue market-oriented reforms.

The government will continue to move forward these reforms in accordance with market principles and the law, to ensure that concrete outcomes will be delivered through specific actions. In carrying out reform, the government must create an enabling environment for the market to play its decisive role in allocating resources. The job of the government is not to direct what the market should or should not do, but to do its best to energize all market players. During this year's two sessions, I have heard the hope expressed by many NPC deputies and CPPCC members for a better business environment in China. They told me that if there is a more enabling business environment and a level playing field, the market will be in a stronger position to play its role. Over the years, through the reform of government functions, we have made substantial progress in improving our business environment. This has also been evidenced by the fact that China's global ranking in terms of ease of doing business run by an important international organization moved up by over 30 spots last year. There has been improvement, but we are still falling short in some respects. We must listen closely to the views expressed by market players and do our level best to foster a better business environment to unlock market vitality and creativity of the people.

When improving the business environment, efforts will be made in both deregulation and oversight. By deregulation, we will ensure that companies of all types of ownership will stand to benefit as equals from our measures of administrative streamlining, including cutting the time required for companies to get business license or other required licenses and permits. There should be no discriminatory practices. For example, through years of efforts, we have cut the time required to get a business license from 22 days to 8.5 days. This year, our goal is to further cut it to five days, and in some places with better conditions, maybe three days. It only takes one day to get a business license in some developed countries. When I visited some local areas, I heard complaints from business owners, telling me that even with a business license, they still face a myriad of requirements for other types of permits, that is, their companies can be up but not actually running. We plan to ensure that except for those areas involving public safety and security and other special sectors, a business license should be enough for a company to be up and running. For government departments, their job should be focused on enhancing compliance oversight, to see what permits are required, and ban non-compliant and disqualified companies from the market.

With lower market thresholds, there must be tightened oversight. There should be fair access to market and impartial regulation. With laxity in regulation on the part of government, malpractices such as cheating and manipulation, infringements of intellectual property, making and selling of fake or substandard goods, or payment arrears, may be left unchecked. I have heard complaints from CPPCC members during this year's two sessions about difficulties in seeking legal redress and getting debts repaid due to inadequate oversight. We must make the rules open and transparent, so that market players are fully aware of the dos and don'ts. We must not exercise selective or arbitrary regulation. We must put in place effective institutional arrangements for both deregulation and oversight.

It can be said that the tax and fee cuts, together with administrative streamlining and impartial regulation, are two very important parts of our measures to counter the downward economic pressure and boost market vitality. The purpose is to ensure steady and sustained growth of the Chinese economy, and make it full of vigor and vitality.

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