China: National People's Congress ends: Wen calls for reforms

Updated On: Mar 14, 2012

Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao emphasised that China needed to press on with both political and economic reform, after his last National People's Congress press conference on Monday.

Reforms were necessary for the country's economy, to spread wealth wider, and make growth more resilient in the face of internal and external risks.

"Reform has reached a critical stage. Without the success of political reform, economic reforms cannot be carried out. The results that we have achieved may be lost," he said.

Wen is known in China as the premier of the people- having been a greater advocate among China's leaders for measured relaxation of party control. He has also called often, vaguely, for political reforms. These have been slow to materialise however.

Wen opened the annual parliamentary session over a week ago by announcing a cut to China's economic growth target to 7.5 percent for 2012 from the 8 percent eyed in each of the previous eight years, saying it was necessary to help transform the economy.

He also said China would allow the Yuan to float more freely, a signal that the country would be taking some measures to appease trading partners, including the United States, which accuse Beijing of holding down the currency to make exports cheaper.

On political reform, Wen said that reforms should be gradual and orderly. Wen apologised for economic and social problems in the last decade. Visibly emotional, as the leader of the country, he said, he ''should assume responsibility'' for the problems in the country during his time in office.

Social and legal injustice were causing discontent in Chinese society, and he cited corruption, unfair distribution and loss of credibility as causes.

The leadership of Wen and his predecesessor Hu Jintao have been criticised for failing to pursue reform vigorously enough to ensure wealth creation.

It was Wen's last post parliament news conference, as the party prepares to hand over leadership to widely tipped Vice-President Xi Jinping later in the year.

Report: China's Wen Jiabao says 'reforms urgent' [BBC News, 14 March 2012]

Report: China's Wen bets final year on reform push [Reuters, 14 March 2012]