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Premier sets sights on economic growth

Updated: 2013-03-17 06:46

Problem solver

To sidestep difficulties is not Li's style. He always comes to resolve conflicts with resolution, far-sightedness and systematic knowledge. Overseas media deemed Li as a master hand in resolving complicated difficulties.

Li said that in China's modernization drive, "we must have the resolution and confidence similar in scaling high peaks and also the courage, wisdom and perseverance similar in walking a tightrope."

Having nurtured a global vision, Li always views China's development against the background of international trend and pays attention to inter-regional development.

During a visit last December to Jiujiang, a port city along the Yangtze River in Jiangxi Province, Li said although coastal regions are important to the overall economy, the central inland regions play a crucial role, too.

The central regions must be fully developed to further open up the broader western regions, and bridge the gaps between the country's urban and rural areas as well as between the eastern and western regions, Li said.

After leaving his post at the Central Committee of the Communist Youth League of China in 1998, Li became head of Henan Province, followed by a post as head of Liaoning Province. The two provinces' problems were typical of modern China. The agricultural province of Henan was struggling to modernize its agriculture and push ahead with urbanization, while industrial Liaoning was facing painful transformation of its outdated economic structure.

Li proposed a comprehensive approach to develop Henan. He put forward a raft of policies, including building a "national granary," mapping out the province's industrial layout and building a city cluster in central China. He consolidated Henan's agricultural strength while pushing it to become an industrial center and a new growth engine in central China.

As CPC chief of Liaoning, he confronted an economy burdened with poorly operated state-owned enterprises and an industry that had failed to open up, despite the province's vast coastline. Li encouraged the province to turn toward the sea and develop a coastal economic belt.

His efforts helped connect the inland areas of Liaoning to the sea and boosted urban integration in the cities of Shenyang and Fushun. Today, the development of Liaoning's coastal economic zone becomes a national economic strategy. Li also helped resolve social security problems of millions of workers and promote the transformation of resource-exhausted cities.

When serving as the vice premier of the State Council, Li was tasked to oversee the country's healthcare system reform, a challenge for policymakers around the world. The reform has been progressing with the goal of providing a basic medical system as a public service to all.

"Reform is 'the biggest dividend' for China, and the dividend shall benefit the country's 1.3 billion people," Li said. China now boasts the largest medical insurance network in the world after its coverage was expanded from 30 percent to 95 percent within three years.

Bearing an inquiring mind, Premier Li would never stop until he got to the bottom of every question in his work, according to the aides of Li. At a conference in late November to discuss the reform plan, Li asked speakers to come straight to problems and suggestions. Many new concepts he mentioned, such as "the third transformation of energy use," have interested ordinary people so much that some intentionally read books to understand the words.

As a problem solver, Li has been known for readily accepting good advice. During a fact-finding tour to Enshi, Hubei Province, Li encouraged grassroots officials to tell the truth. At a panel discussion with NPC deputies from Hunan, Li's speech was interrupted by a deputy who was eager to speak out his opinion. Li patiently listened to him while taking notes, demonstrating his respect of a deputy's right to express.

Li is known for his love of reading, a habit he has nurtured since adolescence. His most favored books include literary and historical classics written in both Chinese and English. Li has a profound knowledge of law and economics and is also an eloquent English speaker.

Li is married to Cheng Hong, an English professor at the Beijing-based Capital University of Economics and Business. Cheng graduated from college in 1982 and met Li while studying at Peking University. The couple has one daughter.

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