Lianhe Zaobao of Singapore: With China’s economic rise, some critics have been saying that China is increasingly using its money and market as political tools to try to influence other countries’ foreign policies or make some sort of political infiltration. How would you respond to that? Should the world feel worried about China’s rise and its strategic expansion?
Premier Li: In recent years, China’s economic growth has contributed some thirty percent to global growth. This has been conducive not only to global economic recovery but also to world peace. More trade and more cooperation mean more negotiations, and that helps to keep conflicts away. The Chinese believe that one must not do to others what one does not like to be done to himself. We always value peace. We are resolute in upholding China’s territorial integrity and will never give up a single inch of our own territory. In a similar vein, we will not take or occupy an inch of others’ land. What we pursue is a road of peaceful development.
Our development so far has been achieved in a peaceful international environment. Going forward, a peaceful international environment remains what China needs for attaining modernization. Let me emphasize two points: One, China will not seek expansion. China remains a developing country who has no intention to pursue expansion. Even if it grows stronger in the future, it will continue to defy the logic which predestines a rising country to hegemony. What China wants is to develop relations with all other countries and regions on the basis of mutual respect, equality and mutual benefit. Together, we could build a community with a shared future for mankind.
China’s business cooperation with other countries follows market principles and business rules. In pursuing the Belt and Road Initiative, we have sought shared benefits through consultation and collaboration. China’s assistance within its capacity to some other developing countries, especially underdeveloped countries, has never come with political strings. It has nothing to do with political influence. In some areas, the international community may want China to assume a greater role. Well, China is ready to fulfill its due international responsibilities commensurate with its status as a major developing country. It would be a misunderstanding to see China playing such a role as seeking strategic expansion.
My second point is that we will continue to focus on managing China’s own affairs well. As Chinese Premier, I am fully aware that my country is still confronted with many difficulties and challenges, including many pressing livelihood issues. We in the government must deal with these challenges on a daily basis. We travel and make friends around the world in order to foster a peaceful and stable environment, internationally and in our neighborhood, and create more win-win opportunities for China’s development. We know clearly that this is what we should continue to do.
People’s Daily: Mr. Premier, in your government work report, you said that fairer and fuller employment should always be a highlight of high quality development in China. At the same time, however, college graduates, laid-off workers from cutting overcapacity and demobilized military personnel continue to face difficulty in getting jobs, which means daunting challenges in ensuring employment. What do you plan to do to tackle this problem?
Premier Li: Whether the government is doing a good job in employment is best judged by our people. I don’t think anyone would be able to cover it up if we fall short on job creation. Let me first address what we plan to do on the employment front this year, as this year’s performance will be a good indicator of what is to come in the next five years.
In recent years, with the Chinese economy operating within its proper range, some 60 million new urban jobs have been generated, ensuring relatively full employment in China. This has been a big achievement. Employment is of paramount importance for each and every family, and nothing is gloomier for it than zero employment of its members. A college graduate would not have a future if graduation means joblessness. Governments at all levels must fully appreciate the importance of employment, and always put job creation high on their agenda. In this year’s government work report, for the first time, we incorporated surveyed urban unemployment as a projected target, to better reflect the employment situation in both urban and rural areas. This is the government putting pressure on itself.
In urban areas, we expect to see some 15 to 16 million new entrants to the job market this year. Our minimum target is to generate another 11 million new jobs and we will work towards the goal of 13 million in actual practice. We have been able to do that in the past several years and there’s no reason for us not to hit that mark this year. Moreover, we have some 280 million rural migrant workers. They have worked hard to pave roads and build skyscrapers in the cities, making great contribution to China’s development. Getting migrant workers employed is an important part of China’s urbanization process and a big source of their income. This year, we expect to see some three to four million rural migrant workers coming to the cities, the government must endeavor to fulfill its responsibility in providing job opportunities for these people.
This year, there will be 8.2 million college graduates, another record high number, and five million graduates from secondary vocational schools. In addition, there will be some one million demobilized military personnel and workers laid off in the cutting of overcapacity. We must make every effort to ensure their employment. In particular, there should be no zero employment families. We must also explore new channels for creating jobs, not least by fostering new growth drivers, which have a proven track record of job creation in the past few years. Fairly full employment will also be a major wealth generator. Just imagine, how much wealth will be created by China’s 800 million-strong labor force out of its 1.3 billion population. This will also offer a huge opportunity for international markets.