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Premier Li Keqiang Meets the Press: Full Transcript of Questions and Answers

China Daily | Updated: 2020-05-30 09:31
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Premier Li Keqiang meets the press after the closing of the third session of the 13th National People's Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, capital of China, May 28, 2020. Premier Li took questions from Chinese and foreign reporters via video link. [Photo/Xinhua]

China Daily: In this year’s Government Work Report, the target of new urban jobs has been revised downward, and the target of surveyed urban unemployment rate upward, compared with the levels last year. In the face of the severe employment situation, what will the government do to avert massive job losses and help college graduates and rural migrant workers find jobs?

Premier Li: We have set this year’s target of new urban jobs at over 9 million, somewhat below last year’s level. To attain this goal, we need to maintain a certain level of economic growth. The urban surveyed unemployment rate target is set at around 6 percent. In fact, in April, that figure already hit 6 percent, so such a target was set on the basis of the situation on the ground.

Employment matters the most in people’s lives. It is something of paramount importance for all families. Of all the comments posted by netizens on the Chinese government portal website, some one third are about jobs. One of them was posted by a rural migrant worker in his 50s. He said that over the past 30 plus years, he had been working in cities every year. But so far this year he has been unable to find a job and the whole family is now in difficulty. Many self-employed individuals have seen their businesses grinding to a halt for several months. And some export companies have also been in great difficulty for lack of orders. This is affecting the jobs of their employees. We must provide support to all these people. But most importantly, we must help them land jobs. There is a labor force of 900 million in China. If they are out of work, there will be 900 million mouths to feed; if they are all put to work, 900 million pairs of hands will be able to generate tremendous wealth.

In order to retain existing jobs, all our pro-job measures will be fully employed with the largest input of funds. Such sizable policy funds can be used by primary-level governments to implement tax and fee cuts, and subsidize rents or interest payment in support of companies. So all these measures are designed to keep companies in business and secure the jobs of their employees and they will be implemented in a fair and reasonable way. We will also finance skills training initiatives by businesses to stabilize employment. This year and the next, we will tap into the balance of the unemployment insurance fund to provide some 35 million vocational skills training opportunities. This will cushion the impact of unemployment, and we will help people who lose their jobs get reemployed as soon as possible.

We also need to do our best to create new jobs. Nowadays, some 100 million people are employed in new forms of business and industry, and some 200 million people are working in the gig economy. The government must continue to provide support and at the same time lift all unwarranted restrictions that prevent the development of those industries and sectors. We also need to create a favorable environment for the increase of new job opportunities. Last year, more than 10,000 new businesses were created on an average day, and we will continue to work hard to see that the figure stays at this level this year.

We can certainly rely on the innovation and initiative of the Chinese people in this respect. One may recall when young people returned to the cities from the countryside in large numbers in the early days of reform and opening-up, the opening of roadside tea stands helped to put many of them to work. About two weeks ago, I saw in the news that a city in China’s western region, in keeping with local rules and regulations, set up 36,000 mobile stalls, adding some 100,000 new jobs overnight.

Our people are hardworking and the Chinese market keeps expanding and upgrading. In this process, the government must focus on providing support to key groups in their employment. The number of new college graduates will reach a record high of 8.74 million this year. We must provide employment services to these people, both this year and next, so that they will not be left to their own devices. And for rural migrant workers, no matter whether they are still working in a city or have returned to their hometown, we will put in place employment service platforms to support them in landing jobs. We must also fully implement all the support measures for demobilized military personnel as well.

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