China's premier warns of pain ahead as reforms progress
Changes to government role will 'upset vested interests,' Li Keqiang says

Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang on Sunday warned of hardship ahead as China presses forward with reform, state media reported, likening the process to "taking a knife to one’s own flesh.”

China is attempting to reduce the government’s role in the world’s second-largest economy to boost economic growth.

"The pain is still there and is becoming more acute,” he said at a press conference in Beijing at the end of the annual parliamentary session, the China Daily reported. "The government is reforming itself. Vested interests will be upset."

"This is not nail-clipping but taking a knife to one’s own flesh. We are determined to keep going until the job is done.”

Li reiterated promises to cut the requirements for new businesses to gain government approval, simplifying the process of registering an enterprise.

He was speaking at the end of the 11-day session of the National People's Congress, ostensibly China’s foremost legislative body but widely viewed as a showcase for legislation proposed by the Communist Party leadership.

The key announcements this year had been the lowering of the official growth target to 7 percent, maintaining employment, fighting pollution and curbing corruption.

Last year’s growth was 7.4 percent, the lowest level since 1990, and the government has warned people to get used to the "new normal” of single digit growth.

Rejecting concerns about the possible impact of reform on China's economy, Li said that "streamlining administration and delegating government powers will increase market vitality and allow us to cope with the slowdown," according to the Daily.

He added that the government would continue to "remove roadblocks" for entrepreneurship, Xinhua news agency said.

Turning to the environment, Li pledged to hold polluters to account for excessive greenhouse gas emissions. "Enforcement of environmental laws should not be a cotton swab but a killer mace," he said.

He warned that businesses involved in illegal emissions would have to pay a price "too high to bear," adding that the government would focus on fully implementing a new environmental protection law.

Last Modified: 2015-03-15 10:57:23
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