United Daily News of Taiwan: Over the past year, relations across the Taiwan Straits have become complex and grave with an uncertain future. Under such circumstances, what will the mainland do to uphold peaceful development of cross-Straits relations and safeguard the well-being of people on both sides?
Premier Li: People on the two sides of the Taiwan Straits are brothers and sisters. Blood is thicker than water. No matter how the situation on Taiwan may evolve, it cannot sever the fraternal bond between the two sides, or change the history or the reality that both sides of the Taiwan Straits belong to one and the same China. Nor will it weaken our resolve and sincerity for peaceful growth of cross-Straits relations.
Our policy towards Taiwan has been consistent and clear-cut, that is, we will stick to the political foundation of the 1992 Consensus, which embodies the one-China principle, firmly oppose Taiwan independence, uphold peace across the Taiwan Straits and peaceful development of cross-Straits relations and improve the well-being of people on both sides.
The peaceful growth of cross-Straits relations has brought new opportunities for people on both sides. According to current statistics, people on Taiwan make 5 million visits across the Straits every year. We will introduce more policies to provide more convenience for people in Taiwan to work and live on the mainland as family. We welcome investment from Taiwan businesses. I recall that at last year’s press conference, I was asked whether the mainland will keep preferential policies toward Taiwan businesses. I wish to reiterate here that such policies will be maintained to enable Taiwan businesses and people to share in China’s development opportunities with their compatriots on the mainland. After all, we are one family.
Radio France: The European Union is China’s second largest commercial partner with a trade deficit of 137 billion euros in favor of China and a large number of European businesses complain about that. What is China proposing to improve market access condition for European businesses? And what about better reciprocity of foreign investments?
Premier Li: You rightly referred to the trade deficit figure as EU statistics. The fact of the matter is, China never goes after trade surpluses. What we want is balanced trade, as unbalanced trade would not be sustainable. Talking about profits, I think European companies have not just earned profits in China, but have also taken the lion’s share of such profits, as they are at the higher end of the industrial chain. If the EU could ease its restrictions on high-tech exports to China, I believe that would make a big difference in our trade balance.
China has proposed to the EU to push forward the BIT negotiations. We hope to receive a positive response. A high-standard BIT will help two-way opening-up between the two sides. And pending that, we will continue to widen market access for European businesses and ensure that European-invested companies registered in China receive the same treatment as domestic Chinese enterprises. With respect to trade frictions between the two sides, we have gained good experience in properly addressing them.
Here, I want to emphasize that China has all along supported a united, prosperous and stable European Union, a strong euro, and the European integration process. We believe that is good for economic globalization, for a multipolar world and for diversity of civilizations. We feel optimistic about the future of the EU and the future of China-EU relations.
Beijing News: In recent years, smog has caused great public concern and severely affected people’s lives. Yet we also discover that whenever a major event is held, the smog would disappear and people would take pictures of blue skies and post them online with much excitement. So I want to ask you, Mr. Premier, what can you do to make sure that blue skies are no longer a luxury?
Premier Li: I fully understand that the smog is a huge irritant in people’s lives. Like air, blue skies treat everyone equally. We all want to see more blue-sky days. In the course of development, China is confronted with severe environmental challenges, smog in particular. In my government work report, I laid out five key measures for smog control and we will push them through with full determination to fight and win the battle on smog. But to be honest with you, that will take time.
The main targets for smog control would be to tackle coal-burning, vehicle emissions and dust. In addition, during this year’s Two Sessions, I was told by a scientist that apart from these obvious causes, we have not yet fully understood how smog is formed, which is as important. He said, the smog in Northern China during winter is unique compared to that in other parts of the world. Of course, this is not the proper venue to expand on this subject, and the scientists will have to conduct further research. But one thing I can tell you is that we will set up a special fund to bring in the best scientists to dig into this matter regardless of cost and uncover the unknown factors to make our campaign against smog more effective.
We may not be able to control the weather, but we can adjust our behavior and our way of development. I feel the same way as you all do. Smog must be put under control and blue skies should no longer be a luxury, nor will it be.
China Consumer News: Today is the Consumers’ Rights Day. Can you say a few words to consumers, Mr. Premier?
Premier Li: You and I are all consumers, and we all need protection of our rights. To use popular Internet language, we should give “thumbs-up” to quality products and “blacklist” those bad traders. With joint efforts, we will enjoy more quality products and a better life year after year.