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New China Leader Seeks 'Renaissance'

  • RFE/RL

China's new prime minister and president, Li Keqiang (left) and Xi Jinping.

China's new prime minister and president, Li Keqiang (left) and Xi Jinping.

China's new President Xi Jinping has pledged his leadership will work for a "great renaissance of the Chinese nation” and the “great cause of socialism with Chinese characteristics.”

Xi on March 17 delivered his first speech since being installed last week as head of state of the world's most populous country.

He told the closing session of the rubber-stamp National People's Congress parliament that China “cannot have the slightest complacency” or permit the “slightest slack at work" if the country is to make a better life for its 1.3 billion citizens.

“We must continuously realize, protect, and develop the most fundamental interests of the people and develop the entire country, and make the fruits of development include all the people in a fairer way," he said. "On the basis of the continuing development of the economy and society, we will progress forward in the direction of communal prosperity."

The leader of the ruling Communist Party also took a hard line against corruption, saying: "We firmly oppose formalism, bureaucratism, firmly oppose hedonism, extravagance, and continue a resolute struggle to erase corruption. We will embrace the inherent political qualities of Communist Party members and vow to struggle for the cause of the party and the people."

Speaking to reporters separately, new Prime Minister Li Keqiang pledged to accelerate economic reforms and keep China on the path of rapid growth.

Li said his administration intends to cut the number of government workers and reduce the amount of money spent by officials.

He said: "Spending on official hospitality, overseas trips for official business and the purchase of official vehicles will decrease, not increase."

To meet the government’s goal of doubling gross domestic product by 2020, China’s annual economic growth must average around 7.5 percent.

Growth in the world’s second biggest economy slipped to 7.8 percent last year, the slowest expansion in more than a decade.

"We will upgrade China's economic development model to enable people to enjoy clean air, safe drinking water and food," Li told media on March 17.

He added that the government would address both problems with an "iron fist and firm resolution."

The prime minister also said China remains committed to strong relations with the United States, the world’s biggest economy and China’s biggest trading partner.

Beijing’s ties with Washington have recently been complicated by allegations of Chinese computer hacking of U.S. firms and agencies. There have also been disputes over alleged unfair Chinese trade practices.

In other remarks, the prime minister confirmed that Xi plans to visit Russia “soon” on his first trip abroad as president.

Li said the presidential trip shows the importance of relations between Russia and China.

In addition to having significant trade ties, China and Russia have stood together on several international issues, including opposition to foreign intervention in the Syrian war.

The Chinese president is also planning on his inaugural foreign tour to visit several countries in Africa, where China has been increasing its investments.

Based on reports from AP, dpa, AFP and Reuters
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