BEIJING: China's new premier on Monday voiced full confidence in the country's economic outlook despite challenges and pledged to further expand opening up regardless of external changes.
Citing the many factors of uncertainty and instability facing the world economy, Premier Li Qiang told reporters that stabilizing economic growth is a challenging task not just for China but for all countries in the world this year.
It is "no easy task and requires redoubled efforts" to achieve the economic growth target of around 5 percent in 2023 on a high base of economic output and amid new challenges, Li told a press conference held after the conclusion of the first session of the 14th National People's Congress, the national legislature.
However, the premier said China's development is supported by multiple advantages, including a vast market, a complete industrial system, abundant human resources, solid foundation for development, and most importantly, notable institutional strength.
"I believe the Chinese economy will brave the wind and waves, and sail toward a brighter future. I'm full of confidence in that," he said, noting that the Chinese economy has been stabilizing and picking up in the past two months.
Pursue progress while ensuring stability
China will keep to the general principles of prioritizing stability and pursuing progress while ensuring stability, and push for a turnaround in the country's overall economic performance this year, Li told reporters.
"On stability, the emphasis will be placed on ensuring stable growth, employment and prices, and the key to seeking progress lies in making new advancement in high-quality development," he said.
China will make good use of policy combinations in the areas of leveraging macro policies, expanding demand, advancing reform and innovation, and preventing and defusing risks, according to the premier.
He also vowed to create a level playing field for all kinds of business entities and further support private enterprises in growing and thriving.
"The private sector will enjoy a better environment and broader space for development," he said, stressing that China's commitment to the development of the private sector is unequivocal and steadfast.
Meanwhile, the premier dismissed concerns over China's demographic change, saying the country's "demographic dividend" has not disappeared, and that its "talent dividend" is in the making.
"When assessing demographic dividend, we shall not just look at the sheer size of the population but also look at the scale of the high-caliber workforce," he told reporters.
Li said the ultimate aim of the work of the party and the government is to improve the well-being of the people, vowing efforts in various sectors concerning the people's livelihood from employment to rural development.
With 11.58 million college graduates expected to enter the workforce this year, China will continue to pursue an employment-first strategy and increase support in terms of employment services and technical training, the premier said.
Li said rural revitalization should be advanced across the board, and that different localities should develop the countryside based on their local conditions.
The country will further increase its grain production capacity by focusing on arable land and seeds, Li said, noting that China's food security is "well guaranteed on the whole."
"The government will make sure that the rice bowls of 1.4 billion Chinese people will always be firmly held in our own hands," he told the press.
The premier also pledged efforts to strengthen government building by further transforming government functions, and improving its efficiency and conduct.
He encouraged officials at all levels to engage more with local communities to learn about what the people need and seek their opinions on the work of the government.
"They need to learn from the people and help the people at the grassroots solve problems," he said.
Door to open wider
This year marks the 45th anniversary of China's reform and opening up, which has not only developed China but also influenced the world, Li said.
He said China will further expand opening up this year in alignment with high-standard international trade rules, opening its door wider to the world with better business environment and services.
"Opening up is a basic state policy of China, and no matter how the external situation evolves, China will stick to pursuing this policy," the premier said.
China has remained a favored destination for global investment, Li said, citing statistics that foreign direct investment into the Chinese mainland, in actual use, reached a record high of more than $189 billion in 2022.