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Print Edition> Nation
UPDATED: March 19, 2012 NO. 12 MARCH 22, 2012
Charting a New Course
By Li Li

COMMITED LEADER: Premier Wen Jiabao talks about his tasks during his last year in office at a press conference on March 14 (WEI YAO)

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao spoke to Chinese and foreign media at a press conference on March 14, after conclusion of the Fifth Session of the 11th National People's Congress, China's top legislature. Edited highlights follow:

Sino-U.S. trade imbalance

Cooperation is the way to address the trade imbalance between China and the United States as well as the difficulties and friction arising from it.

The United States should ease restrictions on its exports to China, and China is prepared to buy more from the United States. The two countries should create favorable conditions for mutual investment and enhance cooperation in infrastructure construction. The two countries should also expand cooperation in hi-tech fields, including new energy, new materials, energy conservation and aviation. China's investment in U.S. infrastructure construction would boost the employment of U.S. workers.

I believe that cooperation always triumphs over confrontation. As long as we continue to move in this direction, business ties between China and the United States will enjoy sustained and sound growth.

China's international balance of payments, particularly in trade of goods, is approaching basic equilibrium. China's current account surplus in 2011 only accounted for 2.8 percent of its GDP, below the 3-percent level that is internationally recognized as appropriate.

The real effective exchange rate of the Chinese currency has risen by 30 percent since China launched the exchange rate regime reform in 2005. The exchange rate of the yuan in the Hong Kong market for non-deliverable forwards began to float in both directions last September, which indicates the real effective exchange rate of the yuan has reached its natural equilibrium. China will continue to advance the exchange rate regime reform to have the yuan move in both directions by a larger margin.

China will stick to the principles of the Doha Round of world trade negotiations to facilitate free trade and oppose trade protectionism.

Cross Straits relations

The political, economic and cultural foundations for the "1992 Consensus" on the one-China principle have been enhanced and popular support for the "1992 Consensus" has become stronger. The mainland and Taiwan should accelerate follow-up negotiations of the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement and expand bilateral business ties.

We will pay particular attention to accommodating the interests of small and medium-sized enterprises, and industries with local characteristics in Taiwan, particularly those in central and south parts of the island.

The mainland will promote financial cooperation and give special care to Taiwan-funded businesses on the mainland.

The two parts of the ancient ink painting Dwelling in the Fuchun Mountains, by famous Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368) painter Huang Gongwang, was finally put on display as one piece in Taipei last year. This showed that Chinese culture has strong cohesion and inspiration. Deep-rooted common cultural bonds will help resolve the merely decades-long political grievances across the Taiwan Straits. It's my sincere hope that the two sides will work together to promote people-to-people and cultural contact.

I am willing to visit Taiwan as a tourist after retirement, though this also depends on the circumstances at that time.

Political reform

I have addressed the topic of political reform in China on many occasions in recent years, giving my view on the topic in full and in detail. My long-standing interest in political reform comes from a strong sense of responsibility.

Although after the crackdown on the Gang of Four in 1976, the Communist Party of China adopted resolutions on many historical matters, and decided to conduct reform and opening up, the mistakes of the "cultural revolution" (1966-76) and feudalism have yet to be fully eliminated.

As the economy continues to develop, such problems as income disparity, lack of credibility and corruption have occurred. I'm fully aware that to resolve these problems we must press ahead with both economic and political reforms, in particular reforms to the leadership system of the Party and the country.

Now the reform drive in China has come to a critical stage. Without successful political reform, it's impossible for China to fully institute economic reform and the gains we have made in these areas may be lost, and new problems that have emerged in Chinese society will not be fundamentally resolved, and such historical tragedies as the "cultural revolution" may happen again in China. Any member of the Party and all government officials with a sense of responsibility must fully recognize that further reform is an urgent task for China.

I know very well that the reform will not be easy and reform efforts will not succeed without the consciousness, the support, the enthusiasm and creativity of our people. To conduct reform in a country with 1.3 billion people, people must always bear in mind China's national circumstances and develop socialist democracy in a step-by-step manner.

However, the process of reform can only go forward and must not stand still, let alone going backward because there is no other alternative.

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