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Wen: Promote economic, political reforms
(China Daily)
Updated: 2004-04-30 00:35

The greatest challenge Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao and his nation face is to achieve sustained development while allowing ordinary people -- especially those in dire need --, live better.

Wen's measures to meet those challenges will come in promoting further economic and political reforms, he told European media in separate interviews on Wednesday before planned visits to Germany, Belgium, Italy, Britain and Ireland and the European Union headquarters May 2-12.

Premier Wen Jiabao speaks at a news conference after the annual parliamentary session ended March 14, 2004. [newsphoto]

Among the people in need are some farmers, laid-off workers and less advantageous groups. "The more I understood the people, the deeper I love them and my responsibility is turning increasingly heavier," he said.

Answering questions put to him by the Irish Times, Wen cited China's ongoing need for co-ordinated development of its economy, while attaching great importance to a balance in the development of urban and rural areas, between different regions.

The premier also cited the need for continuing to seek a sustained symmetry between economic and social development, and encouraging domestic development as China continues to open itself up to the outside world.

Problems existing in the Chinese economy are essentially structural and concerned with economic systems, Wen told Reuters Editor in Chief Geert Linnebank.

"We'll continue unswervingly to promote reform, including financial reform (and) reform in investment systems," the premier said.

Wen further explained macroeconomic control measures in his interview with Germany's Die Welt. To curb excessive fixed asset construction that has driven up capital good prices and strained supplies of coal, electricity, oil and transportation, the Chinese government will step up powerful and effective macroeconomic controls, together with the necessary administrative systems.

China will control loan and land supplies, and will push forward reforms in the structural and systematic causes of current economic problems.

Wen said China should be prudential on the methods and timetable for reforms on renminbi (RMB) exchange rates, noting the nation has not given up its planned changes.

Two directions will be followed in the reform process: keeping the RMB exchange rates basically stable at a balanced, reasonable level and exploring a market-based exchange rate mechanism, Wen told Reuters.

The reform will be based on the the macro-economic situation and the banking system, Wen said, noting that some unexpected results might otherwise be possible.

Democracy and direct election

Pertaining to China's political system, Wen said while going in economic reforms, China is carrying out a political structural reform process, that is, to develop socialist democracy and improve its socialist legal system.

The priority for China's democracy is to guarantee the subsistence rights and development rights for its population of 1.3 billion, he acknowledged, which is no easy thing.

He underscored that China should pay particular attention to social fairness and justice, he told the Irish Times.

China has continuously promoted socialist democracy, especially democracy at grassroots levels by resorting to democratic elections, democratic management, and exercising decision-making and supervision in a democratic way.

He noted that China has a huge population with a vast territory, and its development is imbalanced, and it can only introduce the direct elections at the village level, which is expected to be great practice for villagers to improve their capabilities. This so far constitutes China's democratic development process.

Currently, Wen noted, conditions for direct elections at higher levels are not available.

Meanwhile, he said China has defined its general plan of administering the country according to laws and building a socialist legal country under the rule of law, and keeps improving its socialist legal system.

Taiwan and Hong Kong

Wen said Taiwan is an integral part of China's territory, and the Taiwan issue is in fact one left by China's civil war in history. He underscored there is only one China in the world, and both the mainland and Taiwan belong to China, and China's sovereignty and territorial integrity are inseparable.

He reiterated that China's policy on Taiwan is to adhere to "peaceful reunification," and "one country, two systems," and China will exert its utmost to realize a peaceful reunification of the motherland and at the same time it will never tolerate Taiwan's separation from it.

Wen also said he believed the Hong Kong people will well administer the region and keep its long-term prosperity and stability.

EU partnership

Wen voiced his confidence in the future of China-EU co-operation in a interview with CorriereDella Sera of Italy.

The comprehensive and strategic partnership between China and the EU is of great significance, he said.

According to Wen, the comprehensiveness of China-EU partnership means a multi-tier and all-round relationship covering a wide range of areas. It includes not only political and cultural relations, but also economic and technological relations. It is not only bilateral but also multilateral, and it includes both official and people-to-people exchanges.

The strategic nature of the relationship means that the relations are long-term and stable, and transcend the differences in social systems and ideologies, he said.

As for the EU's arms embargo issue, Wen expressed his hope that the EU will lift the embargo on China at an early date while giving China market economy status. The arms embargo is the outcome of the "cold war," which does not fit into the times, said Wen.

On the Iraqi issue, Wen said China is deeply concerned with the current situation in Iraq and sincerely feels sympathetic to the Iraqi people. China and Europe have the same or similar stance on the issue of Iraq's reconstruction, and the UN should play a dominant role in the process and every country should take part in it, Wen said.

China is willing to join and play its due role in Iraq's reconstruction process, Wen said. It is easy to win a war, but much more difficult to win peace, Wen added.

Deeply worried about the increasing tension between Palestine and Israel, Wen said China hopes the disputes would be resolved through political negotiation and that the two sides can return to the path of "land for peace," Wen said. "And relevant UN resolutions must be implemented."

Wen said China supports the road map in the Middle East and stands firmly opposed to violent retaliation.

China and Germany should set up a co-operative mechanism, enhance consultations on major international issues and further strengthen trade and technological exchanges, Wen told Die Welt.

On China's performance since its accession to the WTO, Wen said China has seriously implemented its obligations as a WTO member since its entry into the organization. China lowered its tariff from 15 per cent to 10.4 per cent in less than two years, abolished and amended over 3,000 laws and regulations, said Wen.

China also cancelled the non-tariff barriers and will cancel its auto quota next year.

"It is not an easy thing to achieve this for a developing country like China that has a 1.3 billion population," Wen added.

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