Washington Post: Thank you premier for coming here and answering our questions for one last time. One year ago here, you were asked by one of my colleagues about the possibility of elections in China, and you said it had to come gradually, step by step, that the Chinese had to first show that they can run a village and then a township. This year, people all over the world are electing their leaders in direct elections. That has had many people wondering and asking the question exactly when Chinese citizens will enjoy these same rights to elect their leaders in a competitive direct election.
Wen Jiabao: I have said on several occasions that we must adhere to the practice of self-governance by villagers in China, and the villagers' lawful right to directly elect the village committees must be protected. What has happened shows that this has been a successful practice. The Chinese villagers have shown strong enthusiasm in participating in this process and strict methods of election have been formulated on the basis of the Organic Law of the Villagers Committee.
I still believe that if the people are able to run the affairs of a village well, gradually they will be able to run the affairs of a township and then a county. We must continue to encourage the people to take bold steps to experiment and enhance their ability in this regard in the course of practice. I believe that democracy in China will continue to develop step by step in keeping with China's national conditions, and no force is able to hold this process back.
Finance Magazine: The GDP growth target for this year has been set at 7.5 percent. I would like to ask if it is just a temporary cut in the growth speed or a permanent one. Does it mean the end of China's high economic growth period? The international community has, to some extent, placed the hope of tiding over the economic crisis on China's strong economic growth. How will the downward adjustment of China's growth target affect global economic recovery?
Wen Jiabao: After I delivered the government work report, the highest attention from media organizations across the world has been paid to China's growth target. I believe they have focused their attention on a very important issue. For years, we have set the annual growth target of the Chinese economy at 8 percent, but this year, we have set the target at 7.5 percent. This is because we want to shift China's economic growth towards one that relies on advances in science and technology and higher educational level of the labor force. We hope that China's economy will achieve high-quality growth, and our economic development will serve the primary goals of making economic structural adjustment and shifting China's growth model. We hope that China's economic growth will no longer come at the cost of resources consumption and environmental pollution. We want to put China's economic growth on a path that is conducive to energy conservation and protection of the eco-environment. We hope that our economic development will bring greater benefits to the people.
We already made up our mind to do so during the formulation of the 12th Five-Year Plan. We have set the average annual GDP growth speed during the 12th Five-Year Plan period at 7 percent, and by setting this year's growth target at 7.5 percent, we want to make it fit the requirement set out in the 12th Five-Year Plan. At the same time, I should point out that the economic slowdown is the result of our proactive macroeconomic control.
Admittedly, China's economy is under downward pressure due to the European debt crisis and contraction of the external market. We have adjusted China's GDP growth target, mainly because we want to press ahead with economic structural adjustment.
With respect to the target of GDP growth this year, it is the consensus among economists, experts, scholars and media organizations from many countries around the world that this is, in the final analysis, good news for the world. Because if we in China can truly overcome the problem of lack of adequate balance, coordination and sustainability in our economic growth and get the Chinese economy on a path of quality development, this, in a fundamental way, is conducive to the development of the global economy.
We must continue to strike a balance among maintaining steady and robust economic development, making economic structural adjustments, and managing inflation expectations. China's economic aggregates now total around 47 trillion yuan ($7.5trillion). And with that base figure, a 7.5 percent growth target is not a low one. And this is even more so if we can sustain this speed as the size of the economy continues to expand. Moreover, we must work even harder to raise our growth efficiency so that more benefits will be extended to the people. We have confidence that we will be able to do that. This is our goal.