What you might not know about Premier Li

By Liu Qiang
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail China.org.cn, March 4, 2014
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Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (back, C) presides over a meeting attended by experts and entrepreneurs to discuss the economic development, in Beijing, capital of China, Oct. 31, 2013. [Photo/Xinhua]

Every Wednesday morning in the number one meeting room of the State Council, Premier Li Keqiang sits before the big oval conference table, with the national flag behind him and a red pen, two pencils and a bottle of ink on the table, to chair the State Council executive meeting.

According to the Organization Law of the State Council, meetings of the State Council include plenary meetings and executive meetings. Important topics and issues are discussed at the executive meetings which the premier, the vice-premiers, the state councilors and the secretary-general attend.

Down-to-earth style

On the morning of Feb. 12, 2014, Li presided over the 38th State Council executive meeting. "Smog has become a buzzword online. Fighting smog has become the top priority in improving the people's livelihood and the government should never avoid the challenge." he said in a grave tone at the start of the meeting.

When Zhou Shengxian, minister of environmental protection finished his work report and was about to leave, Premier Li asked him to stay for a while. "Wait a minute. I have a few questions to ask. Some of the measures you mentioned are not new, so will efforts be stepped up this time? Are the new measures the result of proper planning and adequate reasoning? " After bombarding Zhou and several other ministers at the meeting with dozens of questions on this topic, Li warned that the government should not make empty promises.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (L, back) presides over a meeting attended by experts and entrepreneurs to discuss the economic development, in Beijing, capital of China, Oct. 31, 2013. [Photo/Xinhua]

According to an official close to Li, "being down-to-earth is his most obvious style in meetings." It is not unusual that his meetings overrun, and lunch has to be missed. In one of the busiest executive meetings, seven topics were discussed. Li requires that work reports at the meeting be finished within ten minutes, and ministers should come straight to the point without sidestepping.

Humble and resolute


Since taking office, Premier Li has been devoted to "deepening reform." The new cabinet under Premier Li is serious about reform. More than 100 topics have been discussed since the first executive meeting on March 18 last year and the word "reform" has occurred 191 times in news releases.

Li has stressed on many occasions the importance of streamlining the government, calling for the courage to "gnaw on a hard bone." As Li said, "A bold action by the government speaks louder than a thousand reform slogans chanted."

Nearly 400 administrative approval items have been cut or delegated to lower levels of governments since last March. On Feb. 20, 2014, the State Council issued a circular demanding all central government departments publish their remaining administrative approval items on their official websites. The move demonstrates the central government's resolution to slash red tape in a bid to make government power more transparent.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (R) has conversation with entrepreneur Ma Yun (L) and Li Shufu, during a meeting attended by experts and entrepreneurs to discuss the economic development, in Beijing, capital of China, Oct. 31, 2013. [Photo/Xinhua]

A ministerial official revealed that Premier Li looks gentle and humble, but he shows unswerving resolution when it comes to decision-making, a unique aura that anyone close to him can feel.

There are occasions when he has had to pound on the table to show his anger. At an executive meeting last year, he spoke of a vice ministerial official whose father received low-income insurance from local village officials. "Is it necessary? Is it that the vice ministerial official could not afford to support his father? This kind of favor-courting behavior is by no means acceptable. We therefore must set up the information disclosure system to root out this kind of behavior." Li said angrily, pounding on the table.

Also at that meeting, Premier Li recalled one of his village inspection tours when he met a girl who had to drop out of college to make money because of her father's poor health condition. "She was lucky to meet me and I was able to solve her issues. But what if she hadn't met me? We must establish a system to make sure that not a single child drop out of school because of poverty." Li said.

As a statesman with clear governing philosophy, Li never compromises unless a decision meets his standards. He expressed this governing philosophy at an executive meeting last year: "As Chinese ancient wisdom says, a man without trust cannot stand. The government must build public trust and base its policies on trust. If policies established by the State Council and its departments are not followed through, people can hardly put trust in us. "


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