Apec: Xi Jinping sees 'moderately prosperous society' for China by 2020, economy still steady

China's President Xi Jinping arriving for the APEC summit in Manila on Nov 17. PHOTO: AFP

MANILA - China is on the road to building a "moderately prosperous society" by 2020, with growth rates double those posted in 2010, Chinese President Xi Jinping said here on Wednesday (Nov 18).

"We will work hard to shift the growth model from expanding scale to improving structure, from factory-driven to innovation-driven, and from depending mainly on investments and exports to relying on coordinated increase in consumption, investment and export," Mr Xi said in a speech before a meeting of chief executives for the two-day Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit here.

Mr Xi set a goal of 2 per cent urban growth per year.

He said China is set on removing "institutional obstacles and let the markets be the decisive force in allocating innovation resources and let the enterprises really be the key players in technological innovation".

Touching on the issue of civil liberties as they relate to growth, China's leader said: "We will pay still more attention to equity and justice."

But he emphasised that this would have to consider "the most direct and most immediate interest of the people".

"While making a bigger pie, we will divide the pie more fairly," he said.

Mr Xi promised to lift out of poverty 70 million Chinese in rural areas in five years.

He acknowledged that the Chinese economy had slowed down, but insisted that "the overall economy has operated within the reasonable range and maintain steady and fairly rapid growth".

"In general, China's positive economic fundamentals and long-term trajectory remain unchanged… China is working vigorously to overcome difficulties and meet challenges by strengthening macro regulation and effectively advancing reforms," said Mr Xi.

On climate change, Mr Xi reiterated China's commitments to combat climate change, just hours after US President Barack Obama pushed for an "ambitious" deal to cut the world's harmful carbon emissions during a two-week United Nations climate summit in Paris.

"We will stick to our basic state policy of resource conservation and environment protection and turn China into a beautiful country with blue skies, green lands and clear water," he said.

He added that China "will make ecological progress part and parcel of the entire process of our economic and social development, with a view to achieving sustainable development".

China will continue to work with other nations to combat climate change, he said, citing landmark deals he signed off on with the US and France.

Mr Xi and Mr Obama in September outlined their common vision for a global climate change agreement, including new steps they will take to deliver on pledges made last year to slash their greenhouse gas emissions.

Those included Mr Xi's announcement that China will launch a national carbon cap-and-trade system in 2017 to help contain the country's emissions, which will build on seven regional pilot markets already operation in China.

Such systems put limits on carbon emissions and open up markets for companies to buy and sell the right to produce emissions.

Under a bilateral agreement on climate change concluded in November last year, the US pledged to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by 26 per cent to 28 per cent below 2005 levels by 2025, while China agreed to cap its rising emissions by at least 2030.

Speaking at the same Apec chief executives' forum an hour ahead of Mr Xi, Mr Obama urged business leaders to invest in ways to cut harmful carbon emissions, saying climate change "is a challenge and also an opportunity".

"If we want to prevent the worst effects of climate change before it's too late, the time to act is now… We have to come together around an ambitious framework (in Paris) to protect the one planet that we have while we still can," Mr Obama said.


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