Full Text: Premier Li Keqiang Meets the Press

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Chinese Premier Li Keqiang met with Chinese and foreign press and answered questions at a press conference held by the Third Session of the 12th National People's Congress in Beijing on Sunday. Following is the full text of the press conference.

Premier Li Keqiang Meets the Press

The Third Session of the 12th National People's Congress held a press conference at the Great Hall of the People on the morning of 15th March 2015. Premier Li Keqiang of the State Council met with Chinese and foreign press and answered questions at invitation of spokeswoman of the NPC session Fu Ying.

At the start of the press conference, Premier Li Keqiang said: Friends from the press, ladies and gentlemen, you have made tremendous efforts to cover the NPC and CPPCC sessions. The two sessions have come to a close, but your work has not. Today is Sunday yet you cannot take the day off. I want to use this opportunity to express my sincere appreciation to you all. Now I would be happy to answer your questions.

Financial Times: Last year, China's real estate market has been in decline. This has prompted a large number of Chinese to start buying homes overseas. Currently, Chinese customers have become the largest group of home-buyers in New York, Sydney and London. And this has significantly driven up local home prices. Some people have called into question the legitimacy of the money spent there. Are you concerned about a backlash to such massive home-buying by the Chinese overseas? And will the Chinese government introduce new policy measures to boost the domestic real estate market this year?

Li Keqiang: China is working towards full convertibility of renminbi under capital accounts. This shows that China is taking further steps to open up its capital market. You talked about the phenomenon of a large number of Chinese buying homes overseas and said that they have become the largest home-buyers in a number of international metropolises. I suppose more evaluation needs to be done here as to whether that is true. And I'm not in possession of solid information about this. But what I know is that China is still the largest destination of foreign direct investment. And the number last year was 120 billion US dollars. At the same time, the Chinese government will continue to encourage Chinese companies and nationals to make investment and do business overseas. And in doing so, they need to abide by China's relevant laws and the laws of host countries.

You have a Westerner's face, but you speak Chinese so well. I wonder if you have bought home in China. You are welcome to do so. China is still a large developing country. Housing is not just an economic issue, but also one that concerns people's livelihood. The Chinese government needs to help the low-income people resolve housing difficulty. The government will take more steps to rebuild urban rundown areas and dilapidated homes in urban and rural areas. And the plan this year is an additional one million units each. It is the government's responsibility to meet the people's basic housing needs.

The real estate market is governed by its own laws. China is such a large country. There are mega cities, medium- and small-sized cities as well as small townships in this big country. Conditions of these different cities and townships vary significantly from one to another. Hence, the central government has required that local governments fulfill their responsibility to exercise appropriate regulation of real estate markets. Differentiated policies will be adopted in the light of local conditions. At the same time, urbanization is still picking up speed in China. Hence the housing demand in China is here to stay. We also encourage Chinese people to buy homes for personal use or improved living conditions. We hope to see steady and sound growth of the real estate market in the long run.

Beijing News: Mr. Premier, on many occasions, you have expressed your strong support for new forms of business, like e-commerce and express delivery service. So I'm very curious. Have you ever shopped online? And, what did you buy? Some people are worried that online shopping will adversely affect physical stores. What is your view about this?

Li Keqiang: I suppose that each and every one of you here has had experience of shopping online. And I'm no exception. Yes, I have bought things on the Internet. Actually, I bought a few books recently. As for what books, I don't think it will be a good idea for me to spell them out here. No advertisement. Having said that, I would be happy to advertise for those new forms of business like online shopping, express delivery services and e-commerce, because these new forms of business give a strong boost to employment and consumption. And people seem to get quite excited when they shop online.

I am aware of the worry that online shopping will adversely affect physical stores. It was only natural to have such worry at the beginning. But I recall a field trip that I paid to a local village in China. It's a village home to about 800 families who have opened some 2,000 shops on the Internet. One can well imagine how vast the space for business entrepreneurship there is. And after that I went to a close-by place where there's a large number of physical stores. And I asked one of the shop-owners that if he was concerned about any adverse effect from online shopping. The owner showed me that he has also opened an online shop and even uploaded a video of his physical shop online to show that the store is real and competitive. Such sound interaction between online and offline has only boosted the vitality of market.

To borrow a popular idea on the Internet that everyone stands a chance to fly when there is a favorable wind blowing from behind, I believe with the tailwinds generated by our "Internet+" strategy, we will be able to get the Chinese economy off to a higher level.

Today, March 15th, is the day for protecting the rights and interests of consumers. I hope all stores, be it online or offline, will do honest business, put quality of products before everything else and protect the rights and interests of all consumers.

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