1. Wen Jiabao Press Conference | Q & A | Issues: (More on Washington Post)
· Local Government Debts (More on WSJ)
· Wang Lijun Incident
· Citizen Critics
· Income Disparity
· Non-Public Investment in the Financial Sector
· Social Justice
· GDP Target
· Hong Kong Election
· Housing Price Control
· Sino-U.S. Relations
· Cross Strait Relations
2. CPPCC Conclusion: Top Issues – Quality and Fairness
3. China: Rare Earths Policy 'in Line with WTO' (Reuters report; NYT: "Specialists Say a Trade Case Against China Maybe Too Late")
4. Asia-Pacific Talks 'Constructive'
Updated: 2012-03-14 11:03
Q: What steps will you take in your term to promote social equity and justice? You often log onto the Internet, there are praises as well as criticism on the performance of the Chinese government and yourself. How do you view the criticism?
A: Equality and justice shine more brightly than sunshine. In the past nine years, we have done a lot of work to promote social equity and justice. On the legal front, we amended the Constitution to include respect and guarantee of human rights. We established a Property Law to protect legal private assets. We also amended the Election Law to make rights of urban areas and rural areas equal. We also abolished the Measures for Assisting Vagrants and Beggars so that migrant workers can enter cities freely.
Second, in rural areas, we abolished the agricultural tax to ease the burden of farmers.
Third, in education, we've made nine-year free compulsory education available all over the country.
Fourth, we established and improved the social security system, including old-age pension, medical care and low-income subsistence allowance. Medical care insurance for working and non-working residents and a new type of rural cooperative medical care cover the whole nation.
In the last year of my term, the government will make every effort to pursue several difficult tasks as follows:
First, formulate an integral plan to reform the income distribution system.
Second, establish and issue regulation on expropriation and compensation of rural land.
Third, extend old-age insurance to the whole country. Fourth, boost poverty relief in poor areas.
Fifth, we've arranged the budget for educational expenditures to account for 4 percent of GDP. We'll make every effort to attain the goal and make sure all expenditures reasonable.
All the power of government is entrusted by the people. Therefore, we should create conditions for people to criticize the government. It feels natural for me to see people's criticism.
In fact, many important decisions of government derive from people's criticism. I even think of inviting representatives who often criticize the government to Zhongnanhai, the Chinese government's central compound, to listen to their advice face to face.
However, there are also slanders about me, which pains me. My individual personality is not understood by them and I feel a bit worried about society. I will press ahead and continue to struggle with courage despite slanders or rumors.
(conti. after the jump)
(conti. after the jump)
Q：China and the Arab countries have had a long history of relations. I see a wide gap between China's position and many other countries' relating to Syria. What's the reason behind China's position? How do you see the Arab people's demand for democracy and the future of relations between China and the Arab countries?
A: Regard to the issue of Syria, China has no self-interest. China made its unbiased judgment on the basis of facts. First, I insist the killing of civilians in Syria must be stopped. Second, China respects the legitimate demand of the Arab people's call for democracy, change and own interests. Third, China supports the UN and the Arab League's mediation effort. Last, China has deeply sympathy for the suffering people and we will commit ourselves to the humanitarian work there.
The Arab people's demand for democracy must be respected. It is a tendency that cannot be held back.
China and the Arab countries have a lot of consensus. China has a constant persistence in cooperating with them. China's position will be understood by other countries.
Q: China's annual economic growth has been set at 7.5 percent this year, lower than in pervious years. Is the downward adjustment temporary or permanent? Does it suggest the end of the high-speed growth period for the Chinese economy?
How will the adjustment affect the global economy as the world hopes the high-speed growth of China can soothe the global slowdown?
A: The aim of the adjustment is to advance toward technology progress and labor quality. We target high-quality growth, as well as adjustment in economic structure and development model. The economy will shift to an energy-conserving and environment-protecting model to deliver more benefit to the people.
We set the economic growth target for the 12th Five-Year Plan at 7 percent. The target for 2012 is set in line with the target of the 12th Five-Year Plan.
China is facing economic downward pressure with external contraction and European debt crisis. We set the annual growth for structural adjustment in economy, which is fundamentally beneficial for the global economy.
Q: When can Chinese people elect their leaders directly?
A: I have said on several occasions that we must adhere to the practice of self-governance by villagers in China and villagers' lawful rights to directly elect village committees must be protected.
What has happened shows this has been a successful practice. The Chinese villagers have shown strong enthusiasm in participating in this process and strict methods of election have been formulated on the basis of the law of self-governance by villagers of China.
I still believe that if the people are able to run the affairs of a village well, gradually they will be able to run the affairs of a township and then a county.
We must continue to encourage people to take full steps to experiment and that can help enhance our people’s ability in this regard through these very practices.
I believe that the democratic system of China will continue to move forward in keeping with China's national conditions and no force will be able to hold this process back.
Q: I am from People's Daily. I've seen a new round of housing market regulation with tough measures. How much will the price drop to meet the target of regulation? Will the regulation be abandoned half way due to local governments' interest?
A: I've reviewed the housing markets regulations in recent years. I think this issue deals with the relationship between the interests of China's central government and local governments, especially those of land sellers. It also involves the finance issues and the benefits of many housing enterprises. So that's why it is a tough problem. However, we still see improvements in this aspect, because of the central government's hard determination and effective measures.
China is a big country with more than 1.3 billion people, which is on the way to realize industrialization and urbanization. I believe people should have a place to live, but not necessarily their own apartments. The government will encourage people to rent houses.
Regarding the development of the housing market, I hope it will develop healthy and smoothly or it will endanger the entire economy. The price should be considered according to people's income, invest and proper benefits. What I want to say is that the current price is far beyond that goal.
Q: In recent years, you have addressed political reform on many occasions, why have you mentioned it for so many times and what difficulties confront the reform of China's political system?
A: Yes, I have addressed the topic on many occasions; it's out of a strong sense of responsibility. After the crackdown of the Gang of Four, our party made many resolutions on historic problems and started the reform and opening up. But the mistake of "cultural reform" (1966-76) and the impact of feudalism have not been fully eliminated. As the economy develops, new problems arise, including income disparity, lack of credibility and corruption. To resolve these problems requires economic reform as well as political reform, especially reform of the leadership system of our party and country.
Now the reform is in a critical stage. Without the success of political reform, economic reform cannot be fully achieved, the gains we have attained may be lost, new social problems cannot be resolved fundamentally, and the tragedy of "cultural reform" may happen again. Every party member and leader should fully recognize this urgent task.
Of course, I'm fully aware of the difficulties for political reform. Any reform must involve people's awakening, support and creativity. In a country with a population of 1.3 billion, we should bear in mind the national circumstances, and gradually promote a socialist democracy. Though not easy, the reform must go forward, it cannot stand still or go backward.
I know that people will not only listen to what I say, pay attention to what I believe in, but also care what efforts I make to reach the goal. As long as I have a single breath, I will dedicate myself to the cause of reform.
Q: What's your comment on the election of a new chief executive in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region? What are the underlying problems facing the Hong Kong SAR other than the change of government and the European debt crisis? What's your hope for the future development of the Hong Kong SAR?
A: Hong Kong now faces both difficulties and opportunities. Hong Kong is confronted with the dual pressure of a slowing economic growth and inflation other than the persistent effects of the European debt crisis and the financial crisis. To tackle the difficulties, Hong Kong should continuously promote economic development, improve people's livelihood, advance democracy and maintain social harmony, in particular address concerns of social justice, rising prices, housing, education and medical care.
With respect to the election of a new chief executive, I am confident that Hong Kong residents can elect a leader popular with most Hong Kong residents as long as the election is held in line with the laws and the principles of openness, justice and fairness.
Despite all these difficulties facing Hong Kong, I am confident that Hong Kong people can administer Hong Kong. I would like very much to revisit Hong Kong, talk to local people and meet with the college students.
Q: In the past four years, the mainland and Taiwan have established unprecedented level of connection. Some say that the cross-Straits relationship in the past four year has been the most stable and peaceful of the past 60 years.
What is your prospect on the cross-straits ties in 2012?
You told the story of the painting "Dwelling in the Fuchun Mountains" before. The painting that has been apart for many years was on display in Taipei in June last year, how did you feel about that?
Will you visit Taiwan next year after you retire?
A: I'm very happy to see the cross-Straits ties becoming closer over the years. The 1992 Consensus have seen more solid foundation in terms of politics, economy and culture. The support from people has also become stronger.
To promote peace and development across the Straits especially to promote the business ties, we need to advance the follow-up negotiation of the Economic Cooperation Framework Agreement.
We will pay attention to the small- and medium-sized enterprises in Taiwan, as well as the grass-root people, especially those in the central and southern part of Taiwan.
We will also advance cross-Straits financial cooperation including the bank clearing system and mutual investment.
We will pay special attention to Taiwan-invested enterprises on the mainland by helping them upgrade development patterns and expand on the domestic market.
The display of the painting "Dwelling in the Fuchun Mountains" shows great cohesion of Chinese culture. I sincerely hope the cultural and people-to-people contacts will be increased further across the Straits.
I would love to visit Taiwan if conditions permit. I will ask you to convey my greetings to people in Taiwan. We believe, unity and revitalization of the nation will be one day achieved through united efforts of all Chinese people and that will be our great pride.
Q: If there is one thing you can do to ease the trade imbalance between China and the US, what steps will you take?
A: If we are to ease the trade imbalance between the two countries and to resolve the difficulties and frictions in business tie between China and the US, we still need to rely on cooperation.
The main content of my package of proposals and suggests is as follows:
First, we need to further enhance two-way trade between China and the US. China is preparing to buy more from the US and the US needs to ease its restrictions on related exports of goods to China.
Second, the two countries should work together to increase mutual investment. Both sides need to create favorable conditions for mutual investment and reach early agreements on investment protection.
Third, we need to enhance cooperation in high-tech fields covering new materials, new energy sources, energy conservation, environment protection and aviation.
Fourth, we need to enhance our cooperation in infrastructural development. At the same time, we should bring it in line with financial cooperation. That means China will make investment in infrastructural development in the US that will contribute to local jobs in US. I believe that will have mutual benefit.
Q: This is your last year in office, how would you evaluate your work performance?
A: I have served as premier for nine years, which are by no means easy or ordinary. I often feel there is more work left to do and I have many regrets. I hope people will forget me and all the concrete things I have ever done. Due to my incompetent capability, institutional and other restraints, there are many shortcomings in my work. I will work as a burdened old horse in my last year in office to the last day and make up for my regrets with new achievements to seek the understanding and forgiveness from the Chinese people.
An old Chinese saying goes officials should serve as loyal as they can conscientiously when they are in office and engage in modest self-reflection when their terms end. I will live by this teaching and pass hope to my successors who I am confident will do a better job than me.
In line with the conviction that I will do whatever it takes to serve my country even at the cost of my own life, regardless of fortune or misfortune to myself, I have served my country for 45 years. I have dedicated all my passion, energy and time to my country and my people, and never sought personal gains. I dare to face the people and the history.
The following are topics Premier Wen Jiabao talked about at the press conference.
Local govt debts
Premier Wen Jiabao said on Wednesday that the government's debts are at a controllable and safe level, adding that the increase of debts will be "strictly controlled."
Wen told a press conference that China's debt-to-GDP and budget deficit-to-GDP ratios are at a fairly low level, and they are both lower than that of many developed countries and newly emerging economies.
Wen said that in 2010, the volume of local government debts stood at 10.7 trillion yuan ($1.70 trillion). The figure only increased by 300 million yuan by the end of 2011.
"We will take the local government debts very seriously, and we will not allow it to adversely affect China's development," said Wen.
The majority of government debts is high quality assets, with stable cash flows and promising returns. The debts of some projects can be repaid by their returns, according to Wen.
He said the government will properly handle the debt stock, and strictly control the increase of government debts, adding that revenues and expenditures of local governments must be incorporated into the local governments' budgets and final accounts, and be subject to supervision by the people congresses at the same level.
Wen called for making market play a role in handling local government debts in ways of asset disposals, transfers of projects and selling of equities.
Wang Lijun incident
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said Wednesday the Chongqing authorities must "seriously" reflect on and draw lessons from the Wang Lijun incident.
The central authorities have "taken this matter very seriously" and instructed relevant departments to start investigation immediately after this incident took place, he said at a press conference after the conclusion of the annual parliamentary session.
Wang entered the U.S. consulate in southwest China and stayed there for one day, according to the office of the Foreign Ministry Spokespersons on February 9.
So far progress has been made in the investigation and the issue will be handled according to laws and based on facts, Wen said.
"As far as the result of the investigation and how this matter will be handled are concerned, an answer must be given to the people and the result of the investigation should be able to stand the test of law and history," he said.
Acknowledging the achievements made by successive Chongqing governments and people over the years, Wen urged the current Party committee and municipal government of Chongqing to seriously reflect on the incident and learn lessons from it.
Since the founding of the People's Republic of China, the country has made remarkable achievement in its modernization drive but also taken some detours and learned hard lessons, he said.
Since the third plenum of the 11th Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and, in particular, the decision on correct handling of relevant historical issues was adopted by the central authorities, the country has established the line of "freeing the mind and seeking truth from facts" and formulated the basic guideline of CPC, he said.
In particular, the country has made a major decision to conduct the reform and opening up, which is crucial for the country's future and destiny, he said.
"Any practice we take must be based on experience and lessons we have gained from history and serve people's interest," he said.
"I believe the people fully recognize this point and I have full confidence of our future."
Talking to critics face to face
Premier Wen Jiabao on Wednesday expressed his willingness to meet with citizen critics of government policies in Zhongnanhai, the seat of the central government.
"I don't feel surprised at all that there have been some critical comments on the Internet about the performance of the government and I think it is only natural for that to happen," Wen said at a press conference after the conclusion of the annual parliamentary session.
The government should create conditions for the people to criticize its work, he said.
The government must seriously reflect on the critical views that people have made and, in fact, the government has often been inspired by such comments from the public when making decisions on major issues, he said.
"I have often thought about inviting some representatives of people, who on regular basis make critical comments about the work of the government, to Zhongnanhai so that we can have face-to-face discussion on issues they are interested in," he said.
Wen said he had tried to do it when soliciting public views on drafting this year's government work report but more efforts should be done.
As the country's premier, Wen admitted that some slanders about him have caused pain, though not disturbing him.
"I will continue to press ahead with my work and uphold my ideals without hesitation and misgiving," he said.
Addressing income disparities
Premier Wen Jiabao said Wednesday the government will take further steps to address the problem of income disparities.
Wen told a press conference that the government will continue to increase the income of urban and rural residents, raise the minimum wage levels so that people's income will be able to rise in line with economic growth and increase in productivity.
He said the government will make adjustment to income distribution, further regulate the income of high-income groups, in particular the pay and bonuses of senior managers of state-owned enterprises and state-owned financial institutions, while raising the proportion of middle-income groups.
He also vowed to further improve the social security system, protect lawful incomes and ban illegal incomes.
To promote income equality, Wen said, the government must create equal conditions for all in terms of education, employment and starting one's own business so that all people will be able to get started from the same starting line
"We must pay close attention to the well-being of the vulnerable groups," Wen said, adding he believes if the living conditions of those people can be improved, China will improve the living standard of all people as a whole.
He added the government must also continue reform in the fiscal system and income distribution system, so as to push forward the institutional arrangement for the country to achieve the goal of common prosperity.
Non-public investment into financial sector
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said Wednesday that the government should allow private capital to enter the financial sector and make the process "standardized and open".
China's financial authorities are actively considering taking private financing activities in China's east city of Wenzhou as one of the pilots for an overall reform in this field, Wen told a press conference after the conclusion of the annual parliamentary session.
"We need to encourage their development, and at the same time put them under strict oversight and supervision," said Wen when commenting on the case of Wu Ying, a businesswoman who was once listed among the country's richest women and faced death penalty for cheating investors out of several hundred million yuan.
Promoting social justice
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said the government will continue to work hard to promote social justice during his last year in office.
Income disparity and judicial injustice have incurred many complaints from the people, Wen told a press conference right after the conclusion of this year's parliamentary session.
"We must continue to press ahead with various jobs to promote the social equity and justice," Wen said.
The government will formulate an overall plan for the reform of income distribution system, and introduce a regulation on the expropriation and compensation of collectively owned rural land, Wen said.
The government will also extend the coverage of old-age pension program to the entire population, and make efforts on poverty elimination, Wen said.
On education, Wen said the government will strive to meet the target of raising government expenditure on education to 4 percent of the country's gross domestic product (GDP).
Clergy self-immolations in Tibet
China opposed Tibetan clergy to take such radical moves of self-immolations to disturb and undermine social harmony, Premier Wen Jiabao said on Wednesday.
"The young Tibetans are innocent and we feel deeply distressed by their behaviors," Wen told a press conference after the conclusion of the annual parliamentary session.
Wen said, Tibet and the Tibetan-inhabited areas in the four provinces of Qinghai, Sichuan, Gansu and Yunnan are inseparable parts of China's territory.
The so-called Tibetan government-in-exile in Dharamsala of India is in nature a theocratic one, both under the direct control of Dalai Lama or under his indirect influence, he said.
"Its purpose is to separate Tibet and the Tibetan-inhabited areas from China. We have a firm position and principle on this matter," said the Premier.
"We should respect the Tibetan compatriots' freedom of religious belief and their religious belief is protected by the laws," he said.
Wen also noted that Tibet is still behind the central and eastern parts of China in terms of economic and social progress despite it has made significant progress in the two respects over the past years.
Chinese government has taken strong measures and drafted new plans to accelerate the development in Tibet so as to improve the people's living standard there, said Wen.
The Premier stressed that the government should pay attention to protect Tibet's eco-environment, cultures and traditions while developing its economy.
"We must treat all of our Tibetan compatriots with equals and respect and make continous improvement of our work in this field," said Wen.
Ex-tycoon death sentence
China will handle the legal case involving ex-tycoon Wu Ying based on facts and carefully, said Premier Wen Jiabao.
GDP target not low
Premier Wen Jiabao said Wednesday that the 7.5 percent GDP growth target for 2012 is a result of the government's proactive macro-control and can not be viewed as low.
China's GDP has reached 47 trillion yuan ($7.46 trillion). On this basis, the growth rate of 7.5 percent can not be counted as low, not to mention the economy would keep expanding at this pace, Wen told a press conference after the conclusion of the annual parliamentary session.
Indeed, the Chinese economy faces slowing trend due to impacts from the European debt crisis and contracting overseas demands, Wen noted.
Under such circumstances, to lower the growth mainly aims to facilitate economic restructuring, the premier said.
China has no self-interests in the Syrian issue and respects the demand for democracy by the Arab people, Premier Wen Jiabao said on Wednesday.
"China does not take sides with any party, including the government of Syria. We make our own right judgement and determine our own position on this issue on the basis of actual facts," Wen told a press conference after the conclusion of the annual parliamentary session.
China believes that the demand for democracy by the Arab people must be respected and truly responded to, Wen said.
Premier Wen Jiabao said he believes Hong Kong will elect a chief executive who enjoys the support of the vast majority of local people.
"The election of the fourth term Chief Executive of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) is currently underway," Wen said at a press conference after the conclusion of the annual parliamentary session.
"I believe that as long as the principle of openness, justice and fairness is observed and relevant legal procedures are complied with, Hong Kong will elect a chief executive who enjoys the support of the vast majority of Hong Kong people," Wen said.
Home price controls
Premier Wen Jiabao said on Wednesday that the country will not slacken it efforts in regulating the housing prices, which he considered still "far from a reasonable level."
"If we develop the housing market blindly, a bubble will emerge in the housing sector. When the bubble bursts, not only the housing market will be adversely affected, it will weigh on the entire Chinese economy," said Wen at a press conference after the conclusion of China's annual parliamentary session.
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said Wednesday that China needs not only economic reform but also political reform, especially the reform of the leadership system of the Party and government.
Wen warned at a press conference after the conclusion of the annual parliamentary session that tragedies like the Cultural Revolution may happen in China again should the country fail to push forward political reform to uproot problems occurring in the society.
The country risks losing the results of the reform and opening up over the past three decades without further reforms, as new problems such as unfair income distribution, lack of integrity and corruption, have not been resolved.
"Reform has now come to a critical stage," Wen said, adding reforms must go forward, rather than stand still or even go backward.
RMB exchange rate
The real effective exchange rate of Renminbi may have reached its equilibrious level after rising by 30 percent since China launched the exchange rate reform in 2005, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said Wednesday.
The exchange rate of yuan in the Hong Kong markets for non-deliverable forwards have started to float in both directions since last September, Wen told a press conference after the conclusion of the annual parliamentary session.
"That indicates the real effective exchange rate of yuan may have reached its equilibrious level," said the premier.
Regarding the exchange rate of yuan, an issue of high interests to the United States, Wen said that China would continue to advance exchange rate reform to have yuan move in both directions by a larger margin.
He reiterated that China would stick to the principles of the Doha Round to facilitate free trade and oppose trade protectionism.
Cooperation is the way to address trade imbalance between China and the United States as well as the difficulties and frictions arising from it, Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said Wednesday.
The U.S. should open its exports to China and ease related restrictions while promoting two-way investment, Wen said at a press conference right after the parliament's annual session.
"China is prepared to buy more from the United States," said Wen.
"I believe that cooperation between China and the U.S. is always better than confrontation. As long as we continue to move in this right direction, the business ties between China and the United States will enjoy sustained and sound growth," he added.
Wen said the two countries should create favorable conditions for mutual investment and enhance cooperation in infrastructure construction. China's investment in US' infrastructure construction sector would be a win-win solution for helping boost employment of U.S. workers.
Wen also proposed expanding cooperation in high-tech fields, including new energy, new materials, energy conservation and aviation.
Premier Wen Jiabao said Wednesday he hoped deep-rooted common cultural bond would help resolve the merely decades-long political grouches across the Taiwan Straits.
"It's my sincere hope that the two sides will work together to promote people-to-people and cultural contacts," Wen said.
Wen said he is willing to visit Taiwan as a tourist after his retirement next year.
"But it depends on the circumstances at that time," Wen said.
"Feel sorry" for China's problems in his term
Chinese premier said on Wednesday that he should assume responsibility for the problems that had occurred in China's economy and society during his term of office.
"I feel truly sorry," Wen Jiabao said at a press conference held in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.
"Due to incompetent abilities and institutional and other factors, there is still much room for improvement in my work," Wen said.
However, Wen said he had never committed any intentional error in his work because of dereliction of duty.
2012 most difficult yet most promising year
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao said Wednesday that it is important for China to handle its own affairs well in order to cope with the international financial crisis and the European debt crisis.
"In the face of the deepening international financial crisis and the European debt crisis, what is most important is that we run our own affairs well," Wen told a press conference after the conclusion of the annual parliamentary session.
Wen said the year 2012 might be the most difficult yet most promising year.
"The people needs the government to be calm, resolute and trustworthy,and the government needs the people's trust, support and help," Wen said.This is the last time for Wen to meet the press after the National People's Congress and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference sessions.
"In my last year in office, I will not waiver and carry out my duties,and will remain true to my conviction," Wen said.
"I will always be with the people," the premier said.
2012-03-14 07:42 By He Dan (China Daily)
Curtain falls on CPPCC as members seek ways to build better society
The top political advisory body ended its annual session on Tuesday with calls to focus on quality growth, especially at a time when GDP is slowing, and to make sure that the benefits of development are shared by as many people as possible.
The calls were made as the curtain fell on the annual session of the 11th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), presided over by Jia Qinglin, chairman of the CPPCC National Committee, in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.
More than 2,600 proposals from CPPCC members highlighted the goal of boosting the economy, steadily and rapidly.
But members also suggested reform of the fiscal and financial system, and sought greater attention for the environment. Energy conservation and wealth distribution were also high priorities.
The 2,600 proposals were selected from the more than 6,000 submitted by March 8 to the CPPCC National Committee.
Premier Wen Jiabao announced on March 5 a GDP growth target of 7.5 percent for this year, the lowest in eight years and down from last year's 8 percent.
"To slower the economic growth rate is one of our macro-control goals, but of course, it's also determined by a lot of uncertain factors in the global and domestic market," said Li Yizhong, former minister of industry and information technology, who is now a member of the CPPCC National Committee.
"Slowing growth is natural. I don't think we have to worry much about it," he said. "We should place more emphasis on upgrading our economic structure and solving some urgent problems through reform."
Tax reform has lagged behind economic growth, Li Daokui, finance professor at the Tsinghua University School of Economics and Management, said.
The priority is to cut the taxes, such as value-added tax, that increase commodity prices.
That would be an effective way to expand domestic consumption, he said.
The CPPCC has played a significant role in helping the government in decision-making, members told China Daily on Tuesday.
As members of the CPPCC are drawn from various walks of life, they have a valuable insight on issues that can be passed on during the annual sessions, said Shi Jie, a lawyer from Southwest China's Sichuan province and a member to the CPPCC National Committee.
"I have paid attention to uncovering shortcomings in our legal system and defects in law enforcement," Shi said.
"I have handed in more than 50 proposals in the past five plenary meetings and I'm glad to see that much of my advice has been adopted by policy makers.
"For example, the National People's Congress recently put drunk driving into the criminal law. This was something I had urged. The CPPCC provides a stage for us to contribute our expertise to build a better society," he said.
CPPCC members also submitted suggestions on how the top advisory body could function better.
"The CPPCC has worked well in democratic consultation but it should be better empowered in supervision," Li said.
"We should not repeatedly discuss old issues and ignore some problems that have been overlooked just because the government's good policies have not been enforced at local level," he stressed.
Zhang Xiaomei, a newspaper publisher, suggested some procedural changes should be made for the CPPCC annual session to be more productive.
2012-03-14 07:37By Ding Qingfen and Li Jiabao in Beijing and Zhang Chunyan in London (China Daily)
Beijing defends export curbs after US files case at world trade body
Protecting the environment and the efficient management of resources were the factors that shaped China's rare earths policy in accordance with global trade rules, the Ministry of Commerce said.
The ministry was responding on Tuesday to the US filing a case, along with Japan and the EU, at the World Trade Organization (WTO) against China's export controls over rare earths, which are critical for the manufacturing of high-tech products.
US action against China's rare earths export curbs, and the recent setting up in Washington of a trade enforcement unit that analysts believe targets China, will sour economic relations, the ministry said.
"We knew it (the case) would come some day. Now it has come but China has long been ready for it," Li Chenggang, head of the ministry's department of treaty and law, told China Daily.
"The WTO has repeatedly recognized, and agreed, on the legitimacy of China's goal of protecting the environment and preventing a drain of rare earths resources through export management," he said.
At a news briefing on Tuesday, Liu Weimin, Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman, also said that there were no grounds to blame China.
"China will continue to manage exports and make sure a certain volume of rare earths are available for export according to the WTO rules."
China produces about 97 percent of the world's rare earths but domestic reserves have been depleted sharply over the last 50 years.
A dispute with Tokyo in 2010, after Japan illegally detained a Chinese trawler captain, disrupted exports to Japan.
China has recently lowered export quotas for rare earths, which caused the main buyers, the US, the EU and Japan, to pressure China to loosen controls.
But pressure will not work, Li said.
China has no intention of changing export policy and demand, both domestic and foreign, is treated equally and is based on WTO rules, Li said.
"China will continue to strengthen and improve export management and strictly abide by WTO rules and regulations."
The cases filed at the WTO come hot on the heels of the US establishing an interagency trade enforcement unit to see whether its major trade partners, including China, play by, what it terms, the rules.
The unit, set up at a cost of $26 million and employing up to 60 people, will further fuel trade friction between the world's top two economies, experts said. The timing of the case was also called into question.
"We cannot exclude the possibility that the US lodged the appeal on rare earths against China for political reasons. China is a major target during the presidential election," Li said.
Although he believed that a trade war was highly unlikely, friction was bound to increase, he said.
Experts said the US, the EU and Japan, have long been expected to file a WTO case against China.
Kim Van der Borght, professor of International Economic Law at the University of Brussels, said the case had peculiar characteristics.
This is the first time that the EU, US and Japan have jointly filed and the case is peculiar in another way too, he said. Generally, the WTO is about market opportunities, the possibility to sell goods or services in a particular market.
The WTO is not normally involved in forcing a country to sell something, he said.
Daniel Fiott, research fellow at the Madariaga, the College of Europe Foundation in Brussels, said that China enforced the quotas to ensure there was no environmental damage caused due to excessive mining and to protect dwindling reserves.
This dispute is not only for trade, but for strategy, for the US, EU and Japan's strategy, he said.
In January, endorsing a previous finding, the WTO's appellate body declared that export limitations by China on nine raw materials, including zinc, coke and magnesium, through quotas and tariffs broke WTO rules.
Officials from the Ministry of Commerce told China Daily after the ruling that some countries will soon lodge cases against China.
"I have no idea about the final result of the case. I can neither be optimistic nor pessimistic," Li said.
Sang Baichuan, dean of the Institute of International Business at the University of International Business and Economics, said: "It is not surprising that the US lodged the complaint, but China has to face the possibility of losing."
It usually takes at least two to three years for a WTO case to be completed.
Last year, China's export quota was 30,184 tons, down 40 percent from 2009. This year's quota will be in line with last year's according to the Ministry of Commerce.
Zhang Anwen, deputy secretary-general of the Chinese Society of Rare Earths, said that the US move is "too aggressive and has no grounds".
2012-03-14 07:32 By Cheng Guangjin and Tan Yingzi (China Daily)
China and the United States finished closed-door consultations on the Asia-Pacific region on Monday after recent signs of progress on the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, where the two countries are expected to play important roles.
Co-chaired by US Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell and Chinese Deputy Foreign Minister Cui Tiankai at the US Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, it was the third round of consultations within 12 months.
The talks also came shortly after the US and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea held their first meetings on dismantling Pyongyang's nuclear programs and food aid since the death of its former leader Kim Jong-il.
As the world's No 1 and No 2 economies, the US and China have increasing converging interests in the Asia-Pacific region, said Liu Jiangyong, vice-dean of the Institute of Modern International Relations at Tsinghua University.
According to a US State Department statement, the two sides discussed pressing issues in the region, with "particular attention" to the DPRK and Myanmar.
"The sides held constructive discussions regarding developments in the Asia-Pacific region", and the US reiterated its commitment to "working together to build a cooperative partnership with China and welcomed China playing a more active and positive role in world affairs", the statement said.
Douglas Paal, vice-president for studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said he was confident that the Six-Party Talks, which groups China, the US, Russia, Japan, the ROK and the DPRK, would be covered during the meeting, "in the sense of urging each other to follow through on the Feb 29 agreement".
According to the agreement, the DPRK would allow the return of International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors in exchange for nutritional shipments from the US.
The Six-Party Talks were launched in 2003, but stalled in December 2008. Pyongyang quit the talks in April 2009.
"It (the resumption of the talks) will require the agreement to be put into effect," Paal told China Daily.
DPRK's Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Ri Yong-ho said on Monday that the DRPK will soon allow inspectors from the IAEA to return to the country, according to the Daily NK, a Seoul-based newspaper.
US President Barack Obama will tour the Demilitarized Zone during his visit to the Republic of Korea to attend the March 26 to 27 Seoul Nuclear Security Summit, Chosun Ilbo newspaper cited a diplomatic source as saying.
The US has based troops in the ROK since the 1950-1953 war with the DPRK, and the force currently numbers 28,500.
Shi Yinhong, a professor of US studies at Beijing-based Renmin University of China, said the recent increased direct contact between the US and the DPRK has put the ROK in an awkward position.
Obama has said that a precondition for the US-DPRK talks is that the DPRK must first hold serious talks with the ROK, Shi said.
However, the US-DPRK talks will not ease tensions between the DPRK and the ROK, as Pyongyang aims to affect the ROK presidential election at the end of the year, Shi said.
"The DPRK hopes to have a new ROK president like Kim Dae-jung, who adopted a Sunshine Policy toward the DPRK," Shi told China Daily.
Dean Cheng, an Asian studies expert at the Heritage Foundation, said he doubted that major progress will be made on the Six-Party Talks because the Syrian issue will be a bigger priority.
The two sides also discussed their respective objectives for the next rounds of the Strategic and Economic Dialogue, Strategic Security Dialogue and Consultation on People-to-People Exchange, according to the State Department statement.
The US emphasized its support for strengthening the role of regional institutions in Asia and its desire to work together with China to advance this goal, said the statement.
"In that context, the United States and China discussed ways for both countries to promote greater cooperation on regional challenges," it said.
On Friday, Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin said at a regular news briefing that China expects that the latest round of Sino-US consultation on Asia-Pacific region will increase mutual trust and control the differences with the US, so as to promote positive interactions in the region.
The first round of the consultations was held last June in Hawaii, followed by a second round last October in Beijing.