23 November 2017
AsiaNews.it Twitter AsiaNews.it Facebook
Geographic areas

  • > Africa
  • > Central Asia
  • > Europe
  • > Middle East
  • > Nord America
  • > North Asia
  • > South Asia
  • > South East Asia
  • > South West Asia
  • > Sud America
  • > East Asia

  • » 03/15/2017, 16.40


    Li Keqiang’s press conference: what was said and what was not

    Bernardo Cervellera

    In a two-hour press conference, the prime minister answered 18 questions on topics ranging from US-China relations and the south China Sea to Hong Kong, Taiwan, the Korean Peninsula, and the economy. Despite the attempt to smooth things over, tensions remain, like Beijing trade war against Taiwan and South Korea, and its “distortions" over Hong Kong. Whilst urging ASEAN countries not to "take sides", China continues its militarisation of disputed islands.

    Rome (AsiaNews) – Following tradition, Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang held a press conference this morning, marking the end of the annual meeting of the National People’s Congress. He answered as many 18 questions from foreign and Chinese journalists.

    Those present admired Li’s friendly ease in the Q&A session with the media. The prime minister himself expressed surprise that many foreign reporters could speak good Chinese. Still many doubts remain about a press conference that seemed designed to smooth things over. In reality, recent events contradict what Li said.

    The China-US relationship and the economy took the largest chunk of time. This was followed by issues related to the Korean peninsula, and relations with Hong Kong and Taiwan.

    China – United States

    Li confirmed that Beijing and Washington are working on a summit between Presidents Xi Jinping and Donald Trump. Despite the latter’s accusations of currency manipulation against Beijing, threats of imposing taxes on Chinese imports, and possible changes to the one China (enhancing the relationship with Taiwan), Li expressed hope that the relationship could “continue to move forward in a positive direction."

    The Chinese leader noted that a trade war between the two powers would damage US companies more. Therefore, he suggested the two sides "sit down and talk to each other and work together to find solutions.”

    US-China relations are entangled with the South China Sea, China’s military escalation, and US threats. At least two journalists pointed out that the countries of Southeast Asia are split, forced to "pick a side" between the two. Li said he did not want to see ASEAN countries "take sides" like during the Cold War.

    He noted that Beijing would continue to support ASEAN’s important role in the region and cultivate good neighbourly relations with its members, using diplomacy to resolve territorial disputes. However, Li did not mention that China is still militarising some disputed islands in the South China Sea under the cover of "civil construction" with the spending listed outside its military budget.


    The prime minister said that his country’s economy can continue to grow and meet its target of 6.5 per cent avoiding a hard landing. Li added that China’s steady economic growth over the past four years was not achieved by all-out stimulus and easy loans, but by upgrading industry and increasing consumption. Yet, in January and February the government injected huge amounts of capital into the economy.

    Li reiterated that with 6.5 per cent growth China would remain a major force boosting global economic growth, adding that the biggest challenge was cutting administrative procedures and red tape.

    Over the past four years, China has created more than 13 million jobs per year. Because of restructuring, it will have to find work for at least a million unemployed this year. With this in mind, the government set up a special fund of 100 billion yuan to help people seeking work.

    Korean peninsula

    Speaking about North Korea and its nuclear programme, Li warned that “tensions on the Korean peninsula may lead to conflict."

    He failed however to mention the standoff with Seoul and Washington over the THAAD anti-missile system, which Beijing strongly opposes. Notwithstanding the claim that it is a champion of an “open door” globalised economy, China is still on an economic war footing with South Korea.

    Hong Kong and Taiwan

    On Hong Kong, Li highlighted more economic cooperation between the mainland and Hong Kong and gave details of a new initiative to allow Hong Kong investors to invest in the Chinese bond market.

    He added that the principle of “one country, two systems” in Hong Kong needs to be perceived and implemented in its entirety. “This principle needs to be applied without being distorted,” he said.

    Ten days ago, in his report to the National People’s Congress, Li said that” The notion of HK independence will lead nowhere". At that time, no mention was made of "distortions" or of "one country, two systems", nor of the abductions of bookstore staff, business people, and large-scale influence on Hong Kong elections.

    With respect to Taiwan, Li proclaimed that China and Taiwan are one family, but he did not say that no Taiwanese TV network was allowed to broadcast the press conference live. Li naturally dismissed the possibility of the island's independence, but hid the fact that the mainland is engaged in a trade war against it since Tsai Ing-wen was elected president, with Taiwanese products held up at customs.

    One last important thing that Li omit to talk about is his own future. Many observers believe that in October, at the next Party congress, he will be removed by Xi Jinping. Very cautiously, at the end of the press conference he only said: "We will see each other again when there’s a chance”.

    e-mail this to a friend Printable version

    See also

    12/03/2016 16:14:00 CHINA
    China’s central bank reassures world that growth targets reachable

    Governor Zhou Xiaochuan pledges not to use “exchange rates or other monetary policies to stimulate exports", nor resort to massive capital injections.

    12/02/2015 CHINA
    For New Year, China's central bank has to come up with 610 billion in cash
    Such an amount is what the Chinese are expect to spend during the Lunar New Year holidays. Central bank officials must find enough liquidity without stoking inflation. At the same time, they must ensure that money markets do not seize up, and affect consumer spending. Compounding everything, some 24 IPOs are expected to lock up about 2 trillion yuan.

    02/10/2007 CHINA
    About 150 million people on the move for ‘Golden Week’ holidays
    National holiday time has begun; public security authorities are on maximum alert, concerned by traffic jams, stations and tourist sties. Yesterday founding of People’s Republic of China was celebrated.

    07/11/2017 15:38:00 CHINA
    Bank of China Governor warns of China’s financial fragility

    For Zhou Xiaochuan, demands by local governments for looser monetary policy to boost growth is behind the problem. China’s M2 stood at US$ 24.95 trillion last September. Overall borrowing is 260 per cent of GDP.

    25/05/2007 CHINA
    No one guilty for the thousands of mining deaths
    According to the Supreme People's Procuratorate, 95.6 per cent of all officials investigated in cases of mining accidents are never punished despite their failure to uphold safety rules or even their collusion with mine owners.

    Editor's choices

    Mass for a deceased underground priest. Card. Zen asks for God ‘s grace to save the Church in China and the Holy See from the 'precipice'

    Li Yuan

    Fr. Wei Heping, 41, died in mysterious circumstances, his body dumped in a river in Taiyuan (Shanxi). For the police claim he committed suicide. Family members are not allowed to even see the autopsy report. For Card. Zen the Holy See (which "is not necessarily the Pope") seeks a compromise at all costs with the Chinese government, risking "to sell out the faithful Church". Justice and Peace publish a booklet about Fr. Wei, not to forget.

    Pope: No more war, its only fruit is death, 'our self-destruction'

    Marking the Feast of All Souls, Francis celebrated Mass at the American Cemetery in Nettuno. "When so many times in history men think of a war, they are convinced of bringing a new world, they are convinced of making a 'spring'. It ends in a winter, ugly, cruel, with the reign of terror and death."


    AsiaNews monthly magazine (in Italian) is free.


    News feed

    Canale RSScanale RSS 

    Add to Google


    IRAN 2016 Banner

    2003 © All rights reserved - AsiaNews C.F. e P.Iva: 00889190153 - GLACOM®