Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao on Friday urged relevant countries
in the world to adopt and sign an international convention on
peaceful utilization of outer space at the earliest date
Wen made the call at a press conference in the Great Hall of the
People in Beijing after the conclusion of the Fifth Session of the
Tenth National People's Congress (NPC) while answering a question
raised by the Associated Press concerning China's January
experiment to knock down an aging Chinese weather satellite with a
Wen said the test is not targeted at any country, nor will it
threaten any country, nor does it violate any international
He pledged China's continued commitment to pursuing a peaceful
road to development.
"China always advocates for the peaceful utilization of outer
space and we are always opposed to an arms race in outer space,"
Wen said, adding Beijing was repeating its calls for an
international convention banning weapons in outer space.
The Chinese premier said that China's annual defense budget is
much lower than those of some developed countries, and even less
than other developing countries. He also said that China has a long
borderline and sealine to protect.
Reserves: gradual diversification of assets
Meanwhile, Beijing's move to set up an investment arm to manage
some of its huge foreign exchange reserves won't have an adverse
impact on the US-dollar denominated assets China holds, Wen
Wen acknowledged that the question of how to manage China's
colossal forex reserves is a big issue and also a difficult
"The fact is that US-dollar assets account for the majority of
China's forex reserves," Wen said. "China setting up an investment
agency wouldn't adversely affect the dollar assets (in the
The government is currently forming a new agency that economists
expect will be charged with investing around US$200-400 billion of
China's US$1.1 trillion worth of forex reserves in longer term
Stock market: oversight is key
Discussing China's stock market, Premier Wen, a trained
geologist, said that China has to improve supervision of the market
and build an open, transparent, financial system. Two weeks ago, a
9-percent plunge in the Shanghai stock market triggered a global
The government will improve the quality of publicly traded
Chinese companies, institute an open, fair, and transparent market
and augment oversight, the premier said.
"We also need to encourage and do a good job in the timely
disclosure of information in the stock market," Wen said.
Most of the companies traded in China are government-owned, and
economists say the market's performance has little connection to
the overall health of the Chinese economy.
Economy faces some problems
Wen said that China has the conditions for maintaining the
current momentum of steady and fast economic growth and that his
government has full confidence in its task.
Over the past years, China's economy has maintained stable and
rapid growth, but "it is not a time for complacency".
The Chinese economy still has some major problems, namely
unstable, unbalanced, uncoordinated and unsustainable problems, Wen
The unstable matter is that China has an excessively high
investment growth rate, excessively large extension of credit,
excessive liquidity of the currency, and improper foreign trade and
international payment, Wen said.
China has unbalanced development between urban and rural areas,
between different regions, and between economic expansion and
social progress, the premier said.
The primary, secondary, and tertiary industries are not
coordinated, investment and consumption are not coordinated, and
China's economic growth relies too much on investment and export,
said the premier.
The unsustainable issue is that China has failed to address well
the issues related to energy saving, emission reduction, and
environmental protection, he said.
In order to achieve sustainable development, the premier said,
China needs to boost domestic consumption, push forward reform and
opening-up, remove institutional obstacles, encourage intellectual
and technological innovation, and make more efforts to conserve
energy and reduce emissions.
"The conditions are there, and the most important factor is that
we can strive for a peaceful environment for a long period of time
to concentrate our resources and energy on economic development,"
"To achieve the task, although it is very arduous, we have full
confidence," Wen said.
China's economic growth rate reached 10.7 percent in 2006, the
fourth year in a row that the country's GDP growth rate exceeded 10
percent while keeping the inflation rate at a low level.
Crucial year for cross-Straits relations
The year 2007 is crucial in safeguarding the peace and
development of cross-Straits relations, said Wen Jiabao.
He restated that Beijing strongly opposes "de jure independence"
of Taiwan and any other forms of secessionist activities.
"We keep a close eye on the secessionist attempts and
activities. No one will be allowed to change the fact that Taiwan
is an inalienable part of China's territory and that its legal
status has been recognized internationally," said Wen.
Wen said the government will actively promote "Three Direct
Links" across the Taiwan Straits and ensure the legal rights of
Taiwan businesspeople in the mainland as the trade volume across
the straits has amounted to US$100 billion.
Wen also urged the Taiwan authorities to facilitate the
exchanges between mainland and Taiwan. "The mainland compatriots
have long wished to visit Taiwan and they have prepared for a long
Both sides of the Taiwan Straits should aim for the launch of
passenger charter flights at weekends and for more convenient
freight charter flights ahead of overall direct links, he said.
He also said Beijing "hopes to realize the wish" of direct
tourism across the straits "as soon as possible."
"Ice-melting" trip to Japan
Premier Wen said he hopes his visit to Japan next month would
help melt the ice and overcome longstanding strains between the two
"If Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's visit to China in
October last year was an ice-breaking journey, I hope that my visit
to Japan in April will be an ice-thawing one," Wen said.
The Chinese premier said he would discuss the establishment of
strategic and mutually beneficial ties, economic cooperation,
technical, educational and personnel exchanges with Abe.
Admitting that problems exist, the premier noted that there is a
cornerstone for bilateral ties: the three documents jointly issued
by the two neighbors that summed up the past and outlined the
He urged the two sides to stick to the spirit of the three
documents and "take history as a mirror and look into the
"Both sides will also strive to promote scientific and
educational exchanges and exchanges between the two peoples,
especially between the youth and children," said Wen.
The essence of China's socialist democracy is to let the people
be masters of the country and enable them to oversee and criticize
the government, Premier Wen told reporters.
He said China will take into account its own conditions and
build democracy in its own way.
Corrupt officials will be punished
The premier pledged to punish all corrupt officials.
"No matter what field is involved, no matter who is involved, no
matter how high ranking he is, severe punishment will be handed
out," vowed the premier.
He vowed to push forward the reform of the political structure,
reducing the over concentration of powers and enhancing the
supervision of the government by the people.
The premier also called for enhanced education of government
officials and leaders. "We should let every official and leader
know that the water can carry the boat, but it can also overturn
it," said Wen.
Rights from the people
The premier started his conference by answering questions asked
by netizens, stating that he had taken onboard suggestions and
concerns from web users, focusing on social problems such as
pediatric health care.
Wen said: "We must understand the single truth that all of a
government's rights are given by the people. We should rely on the
people, work for the people and try to be good servants."
Wen called for China to maintain adherence to its
three-decade-old policy of reform and opening-up while moving
forward towards becoming a prosperous, democratic, civilized,
harmonious and modernized nation.
"We must hold a belief unswervingly that we can confidently help
China become a prosperous, democratic, civilized, harmonious and
modernized nation. We can hold this belief as long as we emancipate
our mind, keep in touch with the times, and seek truth as long as
we keep reforming and opening up, adhere to peaceful, scientific
and harmonious development," he said.
"The staff members of the government don't have any power except
working as good public servants for its people," the premier
The Chinese government will unfailingly keep on promoting
education equality, while working to alleviate the social concerns
of under-privileged groups, especially farmers, said Wen.
The aim of reform and construction is to ensure the people's
welfare by providing them with clothing, food, living and
Currently, the most important challenge in this field is to
promote the education equality.
"We will actively implement the employment policy, narrow the
income gap, and establish the social welfare system that benefits
both the urban and rural residents," Wen said.
Wen highlighted the government's initiatives to tackle social
welfare issues, concentrating on building up institutional support,
such as abolishing agricultural tax and shoring up the nine-year
Minimum subsistence allowance
In order to improve living conditions of its poorer citizens,
China will pass legislation on minimum subsistence allowance,
Premier Wen said.
Wen informed the assembled of a plan on urban and rural health
care reform that could provide increased system guarantees.
"The speed of a fleet is not determined by the ship which
travels the fastest, but the one that travels the slowest. If we
improve the living conditions of those in difficulty, we improve
the well-being of the whole society," he said.
To ensure all the people can live a happy life, "the key is to
secure their democratic rights and to promote equality and
justice," the premier said.
(Xinhua News Agency, China Daily March 16,