Chinese Premier Li Keqiang speaks on GDP growth, trade, North Korea at closing of NPC

China's economic growth of 6.6 per cent in 2018 was hard-won, said Chinese Premier Li Keqiang.
China's economic growth of 6.6 per cent in 2018 was hard-won, said Chinese Premier Li Keqiang.PHOTO: AFP

BEIJING - At a news conference at the conclusion of the annual parliament meeting on Friday (March 15), Chinese Premier Li Keqiang talked about various issues, ranging from China's economic growth and trade talks with the United States to the situation on the Korean peninsula and the Taiwan issue.

China will not let economic growth slip out of reasonable range

China’s economy is facing additional downward pressure but Beijing will not let economic growth slip out of a reasonable range, Premier Li said. 

China’s economic growth of 6.6 per cent in 2018 was hard-won, he told reporters at a news conference at the conclusion of the annual parliament meeting. China is targeting a GDP growth range of 6 to 6.5 per cent this year.

China will cut value-added tax for manufacturers on April 1

China will cut value-added tax (VAT) for manufacturing and other sectors on April 1, Premier Li said, adding that cuts in taxes and fees remained a key measure to cope with downward pressure on the world’s second-largest economy.

China will also start cutting social security fees from May 1, he told reporters at a news conference at the conclusion of the annual parliament meeting.  

Mr Li announced in a 2019 work report delivered on March 5 that the VAT for the manufacturing sector will be cut to 13 per cent from 16 per cent. VAT for the transport and construction sectors will be reduced to 9 per cent from 10 per cent.

China committed to effective foreign investment law

Beijing is committed to ensuring the new foreign investment law is a meaningful milestone in its opening up to the world, Premier Li Keqiang has said.

Mr Li listed concrete steps the government would take in the coming months to give teeth to a law that some have said has been rushed out largely to assuage US concerns.

China’s new foreign investment law will lead to the creation of a new complaints filing regime and an information disclosure mechanism to ensure greater transparency, among other things, said Mr Li.

More importantly, it is a signal to various state organs on the emphasis Beijing has placed on protecting the rights and interests of foreign investors and to deepen government work in this area, he added.

North Korea

Resolving problems on the Korean peninsula cannot be achieved in one stroke, Mr Li said. He added that China is committed to a denuclearised Korean Peninsula.

China can use reserve requirements, interest rates to support economy

China can use reserve requirements and interest rates to support economic growth, Premier Li said on Friday, promising efforts to prevent a sharper deceleration as the world’s second-biggest economy expands at its slowest pace in almost three decades.  

Mr Li’s comments suggest Beijing will roll out more stimulus measures to ease the strain on businesses and consumers.

China has already flagged billions of dollars in planned tax cuts and infrastructure spending, as economic momentum is expected to cool further due to softer domestic demand and a trade war with the United States. 

Not realistic to decouple economies of China, US

 It is not realistic to decouple the economies of the United States and China, Premier Li said on Friday, adding that common interests between the world’s two largest economies far outweigh disputes. 

China hopes trade talks between the two countries can achieve results, Mr Li told reporters.

China opposes Taiwan independence

China maintains a “one-China” policy and opposes independence for Taiwan, Mr Li said.

China claims self-ruled and proudly democratic Taiwan as its sacred territory, and has never renounced the use of force to bring the island under Beijing’s control.