China's Wen Jiabao says 'reforms urgent'


Premier Wen Jiabao says China must press on with reforms

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China's Premier Wen Jiabao has delivered a strong warning about the ''urgent'' need for reforms, without which, he said, tragedies such as the Cultural Revolution could still happen.

He was speaking after his last National People's Congress news conference.

He added that China's decision to cut its economic growth target to 7.5% for 2012 was essential to sustain growth.

He also spoke on US-China trade links, relations with Taiwan and said that China would step up currency reform.

He stressed that China needed to press on with both political and economic reforms.

Reforms, he added, had to be ''gradual and orderly'' and were essential for the country's economy.

This was the last NPC meeting before a leadership transition begins later this year. Mr Wen opened the meetings last week with a speech that cut the economic growth target and addressed land and military issues.

The once-in-a-decade transfer of power will begin in October. Vice-President Xi Jinping is widely expected to take over the party leadership from President Hu Jintao, and Vice-Premier Li Keqiang is tipped to succeed Mr Wen.

Mr Wen was speaking to both domestic and foreign journalists after the closing of the parliament session.

Countdown to transition

  • October 2012: The 17th Central Committee (2007-2012) convenes to select China's 18th Central Committee (2013-2018), including party secretary, Politburo and Standing Committee
  • March 2013: Selection of new government, including president, premier and State Council at the NPC
  • Timing unclear: Hu Jintao to step down as chairman of Central Military Commission
  • Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang seen as frontrunners to replace President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao

Responding to a question, he said that the desire for democracy in the Middle East must be ''respected and truly responded to''.

''I believe this trend towards democracy cannot be held back by any force," he said.

However, the series of self-immolations in Tibet, he said, were ''extreme''.

A number of people including monks, mostly in southwest Tibetan areas of China, have set themselves on fire in protest over Chinese rule in Tibet. Activists and rights groups say at least 19 have died.

'Sorry' for problems

As he began the news conference, he was visibly emotional, saying that he was ''sorry'' for economic and social problems in the last decade.

As the leader of the country, he said, he ''should assume responsibility'' for the problems in the country during his time in office.

"There is still room for improvement in my work," said the leader who is heading into his last year as premier.

Premier Wen is often referred to as "Grandpa Wen" in China, says the BBC's Martin Patience in Beijing.

He is seen as the people's champion and is known - in public at least - for his humility, says our correspondent.

In the three-hour news conference, he addressed questions ranging from domestic issues such as housing prices and the controversial incident involving senior Chongqing policeman Wang Lijun.

Mr Wang, who spent a day at the US consulate in southwest China, sparking speculation he was seeking asylum, was removed from his post and was said to be on leave because of "stress".

Mr Wen said local authorities must ''seriously'' reflect and learn from the incident. Beijing regarded this ''very seriously'' and progress has been made in ongoing investigations, he added.

On US-China trade, he said he would like to expand US imports and increase two-way investments.

On cross-straits relations with Taiwan, he said that he was pleased with the progress, but would like to see stronger economic ties, including encouraging banks in China and Taiwan to invest in each other.

On the Chinese currency, he said that the yuan may be nearing an ''equilibrium'' and pledged to allow the yuan to float more freely as part of its efforts to reform its currency policy.

At the conclusion of the parliament session earlier, lawmakers voted on government work reports and budgets and passed amendments to the Criminal Procedure Law that sets out police powers to detain dissidents.

The official Xinhua news agency reported that the Chinese parliament adopted the country's plan for national economic and social development and the budget.

The changes to the criminal law that some critics say could legalise secret detention was passed with a vast majority of some 3,000 delegates voting for in favour. Others say the revisions would limit the police's power to carry out such detentions.

This law follows a spate of detentions of high-profile dissidents last year.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 35.

    China is a slow growing imperial empire, its people are corrupted through propaganda and self deceit! Those chinese who champion china are either foreign born or belong to china's top 5%.

  • rate this

    Comment number 34.

    Perhaps someone a bit more erudite could explain how reforms can be 'urgent' yet at the same time need to be 'gradual'. And isn't Wen Jiabao, by saying there is need for urgent reforms, in effect admitting he's a failure? If urgent then either he's failed as a leader because he hasn't implemented them or failed as a leader to prevent the situations arising that caused them to become urgent.

  • rate this

    Comment number 33.

    Someone once said; Beware the Sleeping Dragon. Looks like the Dragon is beginning to awaken. The Chinese economy is that strong at the moment we in the western world would should look up to it and seek to export our products, it coulds be a valuable asset in time to come. Dont try to bite the Dragon before it bites you

  • rate this

    Comment number 32.

    Policy change and reform will happen, its not a matter of IF its now a matter of How and Wen

  • rate this

    Comment number 31.

    #16 Tibet may at one point have been part of China's territory but it is indisputably that when China invaded Tibet was a separate country with its own culture, govt and traditions.

    A large part of France was once indisputably part of the English crown. That does not now give England the right to invade France and destroy their culture

  • rate this

    Comment number 30.

    #11.jennon - " is so inaccurate."

    The news is always "inaccurate" and not to mention over "exaggerated"!

    Even documentaries on China are poorly reported. For example, there are supposed to be at least 3 - 5 of the worlds tallest sky scrappers in China alone (exc. H.K)...and do we ever see or hear them mentioning it.

    As far as we know from the news...China are full of farmers still!

  • rate this

    Comment number 29.

    It won't be too long when China will dot the cities with more and more sky-scrapers and they can be seen through naked eyes from Moon.

  • rate this

    Comment number 28.

    The reason why we can post our views and comments on BBC is democracy.

    For every bund-centre in Shanghai, millions of natives are displaced in villages.
    For every IPad shipped out of China, there are several villages polluted by the unchecked industrialization.

    Democracy is what assures right to the citizen and accountability for the people in power.

    Good that China is moving in that direction.

  • rate this

    Comment number 27.


    "Given the fact that the vast majority of a population of 1.5 billion are happy, "

    You mean 5% of 1.5 Billion are happy (& corrupt) the remainder live squalid lives! Remember china has trillions of foreign currency in reserves, yet there's no health care or education or justice, however there is a very well equipped army and navy and air force!

  • rate this

    Comment number 26.

    I can see that many people are wildly optimistic on the back of Wen's comments. I can see past the spin. If anything the tight grip of the communist state will get more firm. There is alot of money in China (mainly from West's credit bubble) from the past decade, and when big money is involved it usually has the opposite effect to a more open and democratic process. Democracy on paper!

  • rate this

    Comment number 25.

    In the west we have a belief that the rights of the individual outweigh the rights of the majority. In China, the opposite is true. I'm not sure that either belief can be held up as self-evident truth, so it boils down to choice. Given the fact that the vast majority of a population of 1.5 billion are happy, I don't think we can be too critical of China's approach.

  • rate this

    Comment number 24.

    They're lucky they are able to introduce reforms like this.

    We would have to seek permission from Brussels.

  • rate this

    Comment number 23.


    Thank you for your comment. The uninformed who rants against China will conveniently ignore the fact that other major countries such as India, Brazil and South Africa abstained over supporting a war against Syria. When Burma last had a questionable election, it was India who publicly approved the results.
    It is currently fashionable to conduct China-bashing, but cooperation brings results.

  • rate this

    Comment number 22.

    I read an article in the "Economist" of how China had disproven the fundamental assumption of Western economies... that increased prosperity invevitably leads to democracy. I think the great fear of the West is that other developing countries will look at the China example and decide that they can develop in their own way and not follow the path prescribed by the US

  • rate this

    Comment number 21.

    It's funny how we are so quick to criticise China - On the one hand we moan about the wars our government has entered into in Afghanistan and Iraq - on the other hand China are bad because they won't support a war in Syria.
    The fact is that they have a point - wars to change regimes end up causing more bloodshed. Sometimes there isn't a workable solution to these problems.

  • rate this

    Comment number 20.


    I'd like to suggest that we try some honest partnership and collaboration in China - set aside ideologies and historical baggage, and get down to the serious business of learning from each other to make each of our countries better.

    Do you know the words to the chinese national anthem? Or what is taught us in history? How about 'waishi', what does that mean???

  • rate this

    Comment number 19.

    In the west there is a habit of adversarial politics. I'd like to suggest that we try some honest partnership and collaboration in China - set aside ideologies and historical baggage, and get down to the serious business of learning from each other to make each of our countries better. As a westerner living in China for the past 8 eight years, I've seen a whole lot of progress made that way.

  • rate this

    Comment number 18.


    @13. FatMao
    Goebbels said that repeat a lie often enough people will believe it.


    'Enough lies'?! I don't think you're able to distinguish truth from lie!

    Tibetans would rather self immolate than live with the Chinese, what does that tell you?

    Funny you mention the Nazis, an apt comparison to China!

  • rate this

    Comment number 17.

    It is lot easier said than done. First of all they must distance from their own bloody communist past. Recognize and liberate their own people. It has to be followed by liberation of Tibet and the other minorities. Finally fully participate in active peacekeeping on this planet. Their army is large enough to do so.

  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    @13. FatMao
    Goebbels said that repeat a lie often enough people will believe it.
    The ignorance and lies about Tibet must be tackled.
    Tibet and Xinjiang are indisputably Chinese territory, they are at the core of Chinese security. One WAS a feudal theocracy, the other a major defence against the Soviets and now Islamic fundamentalism.
    There are also water and energy resource issues.

    Enough lies.


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