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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

People's Daily: Last year, some companies have started to trim staff. Some Chinese and foreign-invested firms have started to relocate their businesses overseas. We have also heard complaints by companies about a shortage of skilled workers. My question is: what measures will the government adopt to resolve these problems?

Premier Li: Indeed, in China's modernization process, there will always be tremendous employment pressure. In recent years, on average, some 15 million new entrants entered the labor force each year, and that number will not decrease in the foreseeable future. In addition, we also need to provide job opportunities for several million rural migrant workers every year. This year we plan to create another 11 million or more new urban jobs. And in actual practice, our goal is to generate the same amount of job opportunities as we did last year, that is, over 13 million. You may have also noticed, this year for the first time, we are elevating the status of jobs-first policy to a macro policy together with our fiscal policy and monetary policy. The tax cuts under the fiscal policy as well as cutting real interest rates under the monetary policy are all designed to ensure employment in our country. When there is a job, there is income and there is increase in social wealth.

Keeping our major economic indicators within a proper range is first and foremost about ensuring employment and preventing a surge in unemployment. To do that, we will apply a combination of measures including promoting employment for key groups of people like college graduates, demobilized military personnel and laid-off workers. This year, the number of college graduates will reach another new high—8.34 million. We also need to make sure there will be no zero employment families. For those companies that hire more, the government will provide more policy support. In the meantime, we will expand the platforms to encourage business start-ups and innovation as a way to generate more jobs. The state of employment very much reflects how our economy is faring.

The government work report touched mainly upon creating new urban jobs. Here I would like to make a special mention of our rural migrant workers which are now numbered at above 280 million. And that figure is still increasing by several million each year. These rural migrant workers are a leading force in many industries and sectors of our country. Much of their earnings come from non-farming jobs, and they carry the hopes of a lot of families. One thing I can never forget is that several years ago, I was visiting the construction site of a local transportation project in a mid-sized northeastern city, where I met some rural migrant workers. It was a cold winter day, and I talked to one of the workers who was about my age on the construction site. He said to me that he wanted to work longer hours so that he could earn more money. I asked him why. He said that his child was just enrolled into a leading university and he wanted to earn more so that his child won't have to worry about the college tuition fees and can focus on his studies. In his eyes I saw his hopes for a better future for his children.

Indeed, education has been an important underpinning force that keeps the Chinese nation going for several thousand years. That has made it possible for us to come this far in the past 40 years of reform and opening up. These rural migrant workers must be treated with kindness. And we must ensure that they will not only find jobs but also get paid for their work. There have been instances where their wages cannot be paid in full and on time. The government will formulate regulations to crack down on such malpractices to ensure that the lawful rights and interests of all rural migrant workers will be fully protected. The government must not fail the hope of all their families.

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