Delivered at the Third Session of the 13th National People's Congress of the People's Republic of China on May 22, 2020
Li Keqiang, Premier of the State Council
On behalf of the State Council, I will now report to you on the work of the government. I ask for your deliberation and approval. I also ask members of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) for their comments.
The covid-19 epidemic is the fastest spreading, most extensive, and most challenging public health emergency China has encountered since the founding of the People's Republic.
Under the strong leadership of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core, and through the hard work and sacrifice of our entire nation, we have made major strategic achievements in our response to covid-19.
At present, the epidemic has not yet come to an end, while the tasks we face in promoting development are immense.
We must redouble our efforts to minimize the losses resulting from the virus and fulfill the targets and tasks for economic and social development this year.
A review of our work in 2019 and the first few months of 2020
In pursuing development last year, China faced many difficulties and challenges.
World economic growth was weak, international economic and trade frictions intensified, and downward pressure on the domestic economy grew.
The Party Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core rallied the Chinese people and led them in surmounting difficulties and accomplishing the year's main targets and tasks, thus laying the crucial foundation needed to reach the goal of building a moderately prosperous society in all respects.
The economy remained stable overall.
Gross domestic product (GDP) reached 99.1 trillion yuan, representing a 6.1 percent increase over the previous year.
Around 13.52 million new urban jobs were added, and the surveyed unemployment rate was below 5.3 percent.
Consumer prices rose by 2.9 percent.
A basic equilibrium was maintained in the balance of payments.
The economic structure continued to improve, and the development priorities of regions are better aligned.
Total retail sales of consumer goods exceeded 40 trillion yuan, and consumption continued to serve as the main engine driving growth.
Advanced manufacturing and modern services registered rapid growth.
Grain output was kept above 650 million metric tons.
For the first time, permanent urban residents exceeded 60 percent of the population; progress was made in implementing major development strategies for regions.
New growth drivers became stronger.
A number of major innovative achievements were made in science and technology.
Emerging industries continued to grow; upgrading in traditional industries accelerated.
Business startups and innovation continued to surge nationwide, with an average net increase of over 10,000 businesses per day.
Major headway was made in reform and opening up.
Supply-side structural reform was further advanced, and breakthroughs in reform were made in key areas.
We cut taxes and fees by 2.36 trillion yuan, going well beyond our target of 2 trillion yuan, with manufacturing and micro and small businesses benefiting most.
The reform of government bodies was completed.
Reforms to streamline administration and delegate power, improve regulation, and upgrade services were steadily advanced.
The Science and Technology Innovation Board, or STAR Market, was established.
The joint efforts to pursue the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) yielded fresh results.
Regulations for the implementation of the Foreign Investment Law were adopted, and the China (Shanghai) Pilot Free Trade Zone Lin'gang New Area was established.
Foreign trade and investment remained stable.
Pivotal progress was achieved in the three critical battles (This refers to the battles against poverty, pollution , and potential risk).
Decisive achievement were made in poverty alleviation-the rural poor population was reduced by 11.09 million, and the poverty headcount ratio fell to 0.6 percent.
Pollution prevention and control efforts continued, with further reductions in the discharge of major pollutants and overall improvements in the environment.
The financial sector remained stable.
Living standards continued to improve.
Per capita disposable personal income topped 30,000 yuan.
Basic old-age insurance, health insurance, and subsistence allowance standards were raised.
Further progress was made in the construction of urban government-subsidized housing and the rebuilding of dilapidated houses in rural areas.
The number of students in compulsory education receiving living allowances increased by almost 40 percent, and enrollments at vocational colleges grew by one million.
We celebrated the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China. This occasion has inspired a strong sense of patriotism among all Chinese people, creating a powerful force that will bring great victories for socialism with Chinese characteristics in the new era.
We worked to improve Party conduct and build a clean government, started an initiative to raise awareness of the need to stay true to the Party's founding mission, and strictly observed the central Party leadership's eight-point decision on improving work conduct. We continued to address the practice of formalities for formalities' sake, bureaucratism, hedonism, and extravagance, and took steps to ensure that people working at the primary level are free from unnecessary restrictions and excessive burdens.
We achieved fruitful outcomes in pursuing China's major country diplomacy.
We successfully hosted the second Belt and Road Forum for International Cooperation and other major diplomatic events. President Xi Jinping and other Party and state leaders visited many countries and attended major international events, including the G20 Leaders Summit, the BRICS Leaders Meeting, the Summit of the Conference on Interaction and Confidence Building Measures in Asia, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Summit, the East Asian leaders' meetings on cooperation, the China-EU Leaders' Meeting, and the China-Japan-ROK Leaders' Meeting.
We played an active role in the development and reform of the global governance system, and promoted the building of a human community with a shared future.
We successfully pursued economic diplomacy and cultural and people-to-people exchanges.
China made important contributions to the advancement of world peace and development.
Since the coronavirus first emerged, the Party Central Committee has made its containment the top priority. General Secretary Xi Jinping, putting the health and safety of our people before everything else, has personally taken charge and planned our response.
Under the leadership of the Party Central Committee, the central leading group for covid-19 response has made timely decisions and plans; the central guidance group has provided effective guidance and supervision; the State Council inter-departmental task force has coordinated the response efforts; all local authorities and all government departments have fulfilled their respective duties, and people from every walk of life have given their full support. Together, we have waged an all-out people's war against the virus.
Our medical workers have fought with courage. Our servicemen and women have shouldered heavy responsibilities. Our scientists and researchers have joined forces in order to find a cure. Our community workers, policemen and women, officials working at the primary level, media personnel, and volunteers have stood fast at their posts. Our deliverymen and women, our sanitation workers, and all who make and transport emergency supplies have continued their work with dedication. Hundreds of millions of other workers outside of the spotlight have also made their own contributions. In Wuhan City and Hubei Province the people have carried on with fortitude and resilience, while people from all sectors of society and our fellow compatriots in Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan and overseas have made generous donations, both monetary and in-kind.
Through all these efforts, we, all the sons and daughters of the Chinese nation, have stood together in the most trying of times and built a Great Wall of solidarity against the epidemic.
Responding to the central Party leadership's call to stay confident, come together in solidarity, adopt a science-based approach, and take targeted measures, we have carried out all our work in a solid and meticulous manner.
We promptly adopted containment measures, treating covid-19 as a Class A infectious disease and activating a Level One public health emergency response in all localities.
We have achieved a decisive victory in the battle to defend Hubei Province and its capital city Wuhan by firmly implementing strict control measures, rallying the support of the entire country, dispatching over 40,000 doctors and nurses, rapidly increasing the number of hospital beds, and ensuring the availability of medical supplies. We continuously refined diagnostic and treatment plans, incorporated traditional Chinese medicine into treatment, and spared no effort in the treatment of patients, thus maximizing the cure rate and minimizing the mortality rate.
We extended the Spring Festival holiday nationwide, postponed the spring semester, facilitated flexible resumption of work, and staggered commute times. We have carried out a society-wide prevention and control effort, ensured early detection, reporting, quarantine, and treatment of cases, firmly controlled sources of infection, and effectively curbed the spread of the virus.
Intensive efforts have been made to develop drugs, vaccines, and testing reagents.
We expanded production of medical supplies by a large margin within a short time, ensured supply and price stability of daily necessities, and maintained smooth transportation on trunk lines, as well as stable supplies of coal, electricity, oil, and gas.
In response to changing covid-19 dynamics, we have adopted regular prevention and control measures in a timely manner.
In the face of the global spread of covid-19, we promptly set up a shield against possible imported cases, and we have provided increased care and support for Chinese citizens overseas.
With an open, transparent, and responsible attitude, China has actively engaged in international cooperation, providing timely information, actively sharing prevention technologies and practices, and helping other countries with their response efforts.
As a developing country with 1.4 billion people, it is only by overcoming enormous difficulties that China has been able to contain covid-19 in such a short time while also ensuring our people's basic needs. Our success has come at a great price.
The economy posted negative growth in the first quarter of this year, and daily life and work have been greatly affected. However, life is invaluable. This is a price we must pay, and a price worth paying.
While continuing to advance epidemic control, we have also promoted economic and social development and lost no time in resuming work and production when appropriate. With 90 policy measures in 8 categories, we have provided assistance to enterprises to stabilize employment, cut and exempted taxes and fees, exempted all tolls on highways, reduced the costs of energy use, and granted subsidized loans.
We have approved the early issuance of special bonds by local governments according to due procedures.
We kept up with the spring farming schedule, and continued the critical battle against poverty.
We have provided assistance to people working on the front lines of covid-19 control and to people in difficulty, and doubled temporary price subsidies.
These policies have benefited hundreds of millions of people, and ensured stable supplies and prices and the resumption of work and production in a timely and effective way. Indeed, the Chinese economy has shown great resilience and enormous potential.
We owe what we have achieved in economic and social development since last year and in covid-19 control this year to the strong leadership of the Party Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core, the sound guidance of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, and the concerted efforts of the Party, the armed forces, and the people of all ethnic groups in China.
On behalf of the State Council, I express sincere gratitude to the Chinese people of all ethnic groups, and to all other political parties, people's organizations, and public figures from all sectors of society. I express heartfelt appreciation to our fellow countrymen and women in the Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions, in Taiwan, and overseas. I also express sincere thanks to the governments of other countries, international organizations, and friends from all over the world, who have shown understanding and support for China in its endeavor to achieve modernization and in its fight against covid-19.
While recognizing our achievements, we are also keenly aware of the difficulties and problems we face.
The shock of the covid-19 pandemic has sent the world economy into severe recession, disrupted industrial and supply chains, and caused a contraction in international trade and investment and volatility in commodity markets.
Domestically, consumption, investment, and exports have declined. Pressure on employment has risen significantly. Enterprises, especially micro, small, and medium businesses, face growing difficulties. There are increasing risks in the financial sector and other areas. The budgetary imbalances of primary-level governments have intensified.
There is still room for improvement in the work of government. Pointless formalities and bureaucratism remain an acute issue. A small number of officials shirk their duties or are incapable of fulfilling them.
Corruption is still a common problem in some fields.
During the covid-19 response, many weak links have been exposed in public health emergency management, and the people have expressed their views and suggestions, which deserve our attention.
We must strive to improve our work and fulfill our responsibilities and make every effort to live up to the people's expectations.
II. Main targets for development and the overall plan for the next stage of work
For the government to deliver this year, we must, under the strong leadership of the Party Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core, do the following: --follow the guidance of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era; implement the guiding principles of the Party's 19th National Congress and the second, third, and fourth plenary sessions of its 19th Central Committee in full; firmly act on the Party's basic theory, line, and policy; --strengthen our consciousness of the need to maintain political integrity, think in big-picture terms, follow the leadership core, and keep in alignment with the central Party leadership; stay confident in the path, theory, system, and culture of socialism with Chinese characteristics; and uphold General Secretary Xi Jinping's core position on the Party Central Committee and in the Party as a whole, and uphold the Party Central Committee's authority and its centralized, unified leadership; --carry out covid-19 control and promote economic and social development to fulfill the targets and tasks for completing the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects; --while carrying out regular covid-19 control, continue to follow the general principle of pursuing progress while ensuring stability, apply the new development philosophy, pursue supply-side structural reform as our main task, and draw momentum from reform and opening up to promote high-quality development; --make progress in the three critical battles; step up efforts to ensure stability on six fronts and maintain security in six areas; steadfastly pursue the strategy of expanding domestic demand, ensure economic development and social stability, accomplish the targets and tasks for winning the battle against poverty, and bring to completion the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects. (The six fronts refer to employment, the financial sector, foreign trade, foreign investment, domestic investment, and expectations. The six areas refer to job security, basic living needs, operations of market entities, food and energy security, stable industrial and supply chains, and the normal functioning of primary level governments.)
At present and for some time to come, China will face challenges like never before. However, we have unique political and institutional strengths, a strong economic foundation, enormous market potential, and hundreds of millions of intelligent and hardworking people.
If we face challenges head-on, boost confidence in development, create strong impetus for growth, and preserve and make the most of this important period of strategic opportunity for our development, we will, without doubt, be able to make it through this challenging time. The horizons for China's development are full of promise.
On the basis of a comprehensive assessment of the current situation, we have made proper adjustments to the targets that we were considering before covid-19 struck.
This year, we must give priority to stabilizing employment and ensuring living standards, win the battle against poverty, and achieve the goal of building a moderately prosperous society in all aspects. Specifically, we have set the following targets: --Over 9 million new urban jobs, a surveyed urban unemployment rate of around 6 percent, and a registered urban unemployment rate of around 5.5 percent --CPI increase of around 3.5 percent --More stable and higher-quality imports and exports, and a basic equilibrium in the balance of payments --Growth in personal income that is basically in step with economic growth --Elimination of poverty among all rural residents living below the current poverty line and in all poor counties --Effective prevention and control of major financial risks --A further drop in energy consumption per unit of GDP and the discharge of major pollutants --Accomplishment of the 13th Five-Year Plan
I would like to point out that we have not set a specific target for economic growth this year. This is because our country will face some factors that are difficult to predict in its development due to the great uncertainty regarding the covid-19 pandemic and the world economic and trade environment.
Not setting a specific target for economic growth will enable all of us to concentrate on ensuring stability on the six fronts and security in the six areas.
We must focus on maintaining security in the six areas in order to ensure stability on the six fronts.
By doing so, we will be able to keep the fundamentals of the economy stable. Maintaining security will deliver the stability needed to pursue progress, thus laying a solid foundation for accomplishing our goal of building a moderately prosperous society in all respects.
We must be clear that efforts to stabilize employment, ensure living standards, eliminate poverty, and prevent and defuse risks must be underpinned by economic growth; so ensuring stable economic performance is of crucial significance.
We need to pursue reform and opening up as a means to stabilize employment, ensure people's wellbeing, stimulate consumption, energize the market, and achieve stable growth. We need to blaze a new path that enables us to respond effectively to shocks and sustain a positive growth cycle.
We will pursue a more proactive and impactful fiscal policy.
The deficit-to-GDP ratio this year is projected at more than 3.6 percent, with a deficit increase of one trillion yuan over last year. On top of this, one trillion yuan of government bonds for covid-19 control will also be issued.
These are extraordinary measures for an unusual time.
The aforementioned two trillion yuan will be transferred in full to local governments; a special transfer payment mechanism will be set up to ensure that funds go straight to prefecture and county governments and directly benefit businesses and people. These funds should be primarily used to ensure employment, meet basic living needs, and protect market entities. This includes giving support to cut taxes and fees, reduce rents and interest on loans, and increase consumption and investment. It is important to stress that government funds are public in nature and that no such funds are allowed to be withheld or diverted for non-designated uses. We will work harder to improve the composition of fiscal spending.
We will see that spending on people's basic wellbeing is only increased and not cut, ensure spending in key areas, and resolutely cut general expenditures. Construction of new government buildings and wasteful and excessive spending will be strictly prohibited.
Governments at all levels must truly tighten their belt. The central government will take the lead by committing to negative growth in its budgetary spending, with a more than 50 percent cut to outlays on non-essential and non-obligatory items.
All types of surplus, idle and carryover funds that should be taken back will be withdrawn and reallocated.
We will see that funds are put to better and more effective use; we will scrutinize all expenditure items and see that every cent is used where it is needed most and where market entities and the people will feel the greatest benefit from it.
We will pursue a prudent monetary policy in a more flexible and appropriate way.
We will use a variety of tools such as required reserve ratio reductions, interest rate cuts, and re-lending to enable M2 money supply and aggregate financing to grow at notably higher rates than last year.
We will keep the RMB exchange rate generally stable at an adaptive, balanced level.
As we work to develop new monetary policy instruments that can directly stimulate the real economy, it is crucial that we take steps to ensure enterprises can secure loans more easily, and promote steady reduction of interest rates.
We will strengthen the employment-first policy with comprehensive measures.
We will create synergy to stabilize employment through the coordinated use of fiscal, monetary, and investment policies.
We will strive to keep existing jobs secure, work actively to create new ones, and help unemployed people find work.
All local governments need to overhaul or rescind excessive restrictions on employment, and adopt all possible measures to bolster employment. Eliminating poverty is an obligatory task we must complete in order to build a moderately prosperous society in all respects.
We will continue to apply the current poverty alleviation standards, take stronger steps to implement poverty reduction measures, and ensure that all remaining poor people are lifted out of poverty. We will improve and effectively utilize mechanisms for monitoring and assisting people who fall back into poverty and consolidate our gains in poverty alleviation.
We will endeavor to protect our blue skies, clear waters, and clean lands, and meet the goals for the critical battle of pollution prevention and control.
Strong prevention and control measures will be taken to forestall systemic risks.
Almost five months of this year have passed. In the next stage, we will not let up on any front of our long-term fight against covid-19, nor will we lose any time in advancing China's economic and social development agenda.
The policies we adopt should be both forceful and sustainable, and they may be adjusted as called for. We have both the resolve and ability to accomplish the targets and tasks set for this year.