Chinese Prime Minister Li Qiang – Photo: REUTERS – FLORENCE LO

By Stephane Lagarde

Smiling face, constant nod towards the cameras, Li Qiang answered journalists’ questions (probably sent in advance) without having to consult notes and affirming, at least three times, his confidence in the fundamentals of the second largest economy in the world, which is still recovering damage caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.

The prime minister is betting on its gigantic internal market, on the dynamism of its companies, mainly those focused on exports, a response against those, in the United States, who defend a dissociation from China.

“According to Chinese data, trade between China and the United States reached US$760 billion last year, which is a record in history. The two countries must cooperate with each other. If we cooperate, we can accomplish great things together. Encirclement and repression are not a solution,” suggested Li Qiang.

The Chinese growth target, set at 5% for this year, will not be easy to achieve, warns the head of the State Council, who, to reassure the markets, recalls his knowledge of the business community and the “difficulties of companies” . A knowledge forged during his career in the administration of the rich eastern provinces (Jiangsu and Zhejiang) where the policy of opening to red capitalism was implemented.

The Chinese private sector has been hard hit in recent years following a regulatory crackdown that has mainly targeted the new technology sector, the internet and private education.

Pioneering spirit

In his speech, Li Qiang spoke about the need to support pioneering in the entrepreneurial segment and the central government’s support for the private economy, including the labor market.

No response was given, however, to the systemic risks that threaten the country’s economic development, such as the real estate crisis and the indebtedness of the provinces.

Chinese Premier Li Qiang – Photo: Greg Baker/Pool via Reuters

Instead, the Prime Minister preferred to quote the heroes of his generation, the Stakhanovists (workers who joined the Soviet workers’ movement that defended the increase of productivity through the greatest commitment), protagonists of a “propaganda capable of moving mountains”. “Every country has difficulties, the Chinese people have always overcome theirs,” he added.

The recently re-elected Chinese president, Xi Jinping, when speaking during the closing ceremony of the parliamentary session, also placed the economy at the center of his first speech in this third term. “We must promote high-level openness and make good use of the world’s market and resources for our development and promote the common development of the world,” he stressed.

steel safety

Safety also received attention in this brief statement. After ten years in power, China’s number one has eliminated its rivals. In his view, the Communist Party should strengthen its oversight of security issues and modernize its armed forces.

Xi Jinping declares his directives as he finishes validating a state leadership team composed of his close guard. An opportunity to reinforce the “great steel wall” concept already used for the CPC centenary.

“Security is the basis of development, stability is the prerequisite for prosperity,” he insisted. “We must comprehensively promote the modernization of national defense and the armed forces, and transform the people’s army into a great steel wall that effectively protects the country’s sovereignty, security and development interests.”

A development that must be shared, repeated the Chinese president, in accordance with the principles of reducing the great differences in wealth, as demonstrated in the policy of “common prosperity” that he initiated and that continues to shake the private sector.

Originally published on RFI

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