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Premier pledges to push reforms ahead
(China Daily)
Updated: 2004-03-15 00:38

Premier Wen Jiabao Sunday pledged to steer the "big ship of Chinese economy" on a smooth and fast course, while pushing ahead the country's political reform.

The premier also reiterated that China firmly opposes to any attempt to separate Taiwan from the motherland, and that the Central Government will do everything possible to back prosperity and stability in Hong Kong.

Speaking to the press shortly after the annual parliamentary session ended Sunday afternoon, Wen said the Chinese Government faces a test "no less severe" than the one posed by last year's SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) epidemic.

"The most important job of the government (this year) is to maintain a balanced, relatively-fast economic growth," Wen said. "We must stand new challenges and live up to the expectations of the people."

As the country's economy developed rapidly and demonstrated "more dynamism" last year, some deep-seated problems in the economic structure remained unsolved while new ones, such as excessive investment scale, decreasing grain output and an "obvious trend of rising prices," kept cropping up, the premier said.

These problems, plus the ever strained supply-demand relations in energy, transport and key raw materials, have put China's economy in a "critical juncture" and the government in a new serious test.

If the problems are properly handled, the "big ship of the Chinese economy" will move forward smoothly. If not, "setbacks" will be "inevitable," Wen said.

As macro-control has become more difficult over an economy where the market has an increasingly important say and whose doors are opened wider to the outside world, the government must sustain steady economic growth by solving the outstanding problems in a timely and effective fashion, he said.

Government reform

The premier said China's reform, from its very beginning, has combined economic changes with political restructuring.

"Without successful political restructuring, there would be no successful economic reform," he said.

Wen said that, since assuming the premiership last year, he has set three objectives for government institutional reform.

The first is to establish a scientific and democratic decision-making mechanism, including a group decision-making system and consultations with experts and professionals.

The second is to prompt the government to administrate the country in line with law, build a clean and honest government, and pursue the appropriate combination of government's power and responsibility.

And the third goal is to put the government under scrutiny from every corner of society, including supervision from the National People's Congress and the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference. At the same time, governments must hear and solicit opinions and views from the general public.

Peaceful reunification

In answering questions regarding Taiwan, the premier said China will never allow anyone to separate Taiwan from the motherland by any means, while striving for peaceful reunification with the utmost sincerity and great efforts.

The premier invoked modern and contemporary Taiwan writers to talk about the appalling past of Taiwan and how the people aspired for reunification.

He said there is only one China in the world, and the Taiwan Straits can never sever the "blood relations" shared by Chinese both on the mainland and in Taiwan.

The mainland will strive to maintain stability across the Straits and push for direct mail service, trade, air and shipping services across the Straits, as well as cross-Straits economic, cultural and personnel exchanges, he said.

The mainland will strive for an early resumption of cross-Straits dialogue and negotiations under the one-China principle and for the eventual peaceful reunification of the motherland, he added.

The referendum scheduled for March 20 by the Taiwan authorities under the pretext of democracy poses a threat to stability across the Taiwan Straits, and challenges the universally acknowledged one-China principle, the premier said.

Wen said he appreciated the international opposition to the referendum, and the open statement on the one-China principle made by the international community, including the United States, is conducive to peace and stability across the Taiwan Straits.

"I hope the United States and other countries will honour their commitment to the one-China principle, and make due contribution to maintaining stability across the Taiwan Straits and to China's peaceful reunification," Wen said.

At the same time he stressed that the Taiwan issue is internal to China, and will eventually be resolved by the Chinese people on their own.

Bright future for HK

The premier said the central government will do everything conducive to the prosperity and stability of Hong Kong and to the development of Hong Kong.

"Our principle is that whatever is conducive to the prosperity and stability of Hong Kong, to the common development of Hong Kong and the inland, we will actively do it and give our full support to it," he said.

Wen said the central government holds an active attitude toward the upcoming issuance of 20 billion Hong Kong dollars of bonds in Hong Kong.

Late last June, Wen attended a ceremony in Hong Kong where the agreement on the Mainland-Hong Kong Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA) was signed.

The premier reiterated that the central government will unsparingly uphold the principles of "one country, two systems", "Hong Kong people governing Hong Kong" and a high degree of autonomy as well as the Basic Law of Hong Kong.

He said he hoped that Hong Kong residents can be more united and work together for a better future.

"I sincerely hope Hong Kong residents can take into consideration the broad situation of the long-term prosperity and stability as well as their own long-term and fundamental interests, unite and work together with firm determination for a better future of Hong Kong," he said.

Constitutional amendment

The amendments to the Constitution, which were passed Sunday at the top legislatures's annual session with overwhelming support, is a reflection of the will of the entire people, Wen said.

He highlighted the incorporation into the Constitution of the important thought of "Three Represents" along with Marxism-Leninism, Mao Zedong Thought and Deng Xiaoping Theory as the guiding ideology for the Party and the nation, saying it is of profound and far-reaching significance to China's development.

There are two ways to ensure the Constitution be strictly abided by, the premier said.

First, the Party leads the people in making the Constitution and leading officials of the Communist Party of China and all Party members should play an exemplary role in abiding by the Constitution and laws.

Second, the Constitution, as the fundamental law of the country, and other laws will not be changed just because of changes of State leaders or changes in the leaders' attention, Wen said.

The premier told the press conference that his government will take it as one of its most important tasks to further step up the fight against corruption, as it is a "life-or-death" issue for the destiny of the Communist Party of China and the Chinese Government.

"My colleagues and I are willing to be subject to supervision by the people," Wen stressed.

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