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Monday, 18 March 2013

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President XI calls for ‘great RENAISSANCE’

CHINA : China's new President Xi Jinping said Sunday he will fight for a “great renaissance of the Chinese nation”, as the world's most populous country completed its once-in-a-decade power transition. In his first speech as head of state, Xi called for “the continued realisation of the great renaissance of the Chinese nation and the Chinese dream”, laying out a vision of a stronger military and ever-higher living standards. The 25-minute speech closed a Parliament meeting which named Xi as Head of State and Li Keqiang as Premier, four months after the pair took the top two posts in the Communist Party.

Both Xi and Li stuck to the party's long-held consensus on the need for economic reforms to ensure growth, while increasing military power and avoiding political change that could threaten its grip on power.

Analysts said Xi's concept of a “great renaissance” was a slogan designed to have broad appeal, without any firm commitments to specific reforms. Xi has close ties to China's expanding military -- which put its first aircraft carrier into service last year -- and he called for the Armed Forces to strengthen their ability to “win battles”.

Newly appointed Premier Li Keqiang sought to play down various conflicts in a press conference, saying that Beijing would not “seek hegemony” as it became stronger and denying allegations that China engages in hacking. Li called the accusations “groundless”, days after President Barack Obama weighed in on the issue. He said China's relationship with Washington was vital and their mutual interests outweighed their differences. “Conflicts between big powers are not inevitable,” Li said. Li, now in charge of the day-to-day running of the government, said that “maintaining sustainable economic growth”, with an annual GDP increase of around 7.5 percent over the coming decade, would be his administration's top priority.

“What the market can do, we should release more to the market”, he said without giving details of specific economic reforms. Both leaders reiterated the party's repeated pledges to fight corruption, with Li saying that the government had an “unshakable resolve” to do so.

“Since we have chosen public service we should give up all thought of making money,” the premier said.

Speaking in Beijing's Great Hall of the People, Xi stressed continuity with previous Chinese leaders and thanked outgoing president Hu Jintao, who stood and bowed as China completed the transition of its top leaders. Neither Xi nor Li mentioned systematic political reform. But Li said China would release a plan for unspecified changes to its controversial “re-education” labour camp system, in which people can be incarcerated for up to four years without trial.

He also promised to reduce the number of government employees as part of an anti-waste drive, again without giving details.

AFP

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