In His First Address, China's New Premier Says ‘High Quality' Growth Is a Priority

Lintao Zhang | Getty Images News
  • China's new premier Li Qiang said Monday that policymakers would focus on the quality of growth — especially on ordinary people's need for housing, income, education and health care.
  • He said China's growth target of around 5% won't be easy to achieve. But he said policymakers would push for growth, and claimed non-state-owned enterprises would have greater room for development.
  • Li was named China's new premier on Sunday, in a widely expected move.

BEIJING — China's new premier Li Qiang said Monday that policymakers would focus on the quality of growth — with special attention to ordinary people's need for housing, income, education and health care.

His comments reflected how Beijing is still focused on priorities other than growth itself.

"Most people do not keep their eye on GDP growth all the time," Li said in Mandarin, according to an official translation. "What they care more about are things that happen in their everyday life."

"Currently our development is focused on providing for people's basic needs," he said. "Going forward, the focus will be shifted toward delivering a life of better quality for the people."

Li was addressing reporters for the first time since assuming the role of premier, which oversees China's top executive body, the State Council.

"On progress, the key will be making progress on high-quality development,“ Li said. He said policymakers would work toward stability in prices and employment.

That shift to high-quality development includes building up tech and so-called green industries, Li said.

In terms of macro policy, he said leaders would focus on stability, boosting domestic and external demand, tech innovation and diffusing risks.

He said China's growth target of around 5% won't be easy to achieve. But he said policymakers would push for growth, and claimed non-state-owned enterprises would have greater room for development.

On relations with the U.S., China's largest trading partner on a single country basis, Li said it is important to implement what Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Joe Biden called for during their meeting in November.

China's cabinet reshuffle

Li was named China's new premier on Sunday, in a widely expected move. He is a known protege of Xi and never served as vice premier — his appointment breaks with precedent.

On Friday, Xi gained an unprecedented third term as president, further consolidating his power.

Xi was widely expected to retain the role in this month's largely ceremonial parliamentary meeting, known as the "Two Sessions." The annual gathering marks the meetings of an advisory group and a legislature, the National People's Congress.

In other leadership changes announced over the weekend, He Lifeng was among four people named vice premier. He formerly led the National Development and Reform Commission, China's economic planning agency.

Several ministers retained their roles. Yi Gang remains the head of the People's Bank of China, Liu Kun the head of the Ministry of Finance and Commerce Minister Wang Wentao, according to state media.

New Chinese Premier Li Qiang, pictured on the right, is a known protege of Chinese President Xi Jinping, pictured on the left.
Lintao Zhang | Getty Images News | Getty Images
New Chinese Premier Li Qiang, pictured on the right, is a known protege of Chinese President Xi Jinping, pictured on the left.

Beijing has yet to announce who will head the China Securities Regulatory Commission and the newly formed National Financial Regulatory Administration, which replaces the China Banking and Insurance Regulatory Commission and expands its role.

The administration is set to oversee most of the financial industry — except for the securities industry.

Beijing established the new finance administration as part of a restructuring of the State Council, the Chinese government's top executive body. As premier, Li Qiang heads the State Council.

The restructuring comes as the ruling Communist Party of China is expected to significantly increase its direct control of the government.

The latest shuffle in government leadership will help make China's monetary and fiscal policies more consistent, said JLL's Bruce Pang. He expects the new team will help establish a "more growth-friendly stance."

Copyright CNBC
Contact Us