[Epoch Times, March 11, 2022](Comprehensive report by The Epoch Times reporter Ning Haizhong) Today (11th) after the conclusion of the NPC meeting, at least seven sensitive topics were involved in the press conference of Chinese Premier Li Keqiang. Among them, when responding to people’s livelihood issues, Li Keqiang took the initiative to mention human trafficking, and was suspected of expressing his anger at the Xuzhou iron chain woman incident.
According to the live broadcast of CCTV, Li Keqiang’s press conference was held by video link. This is the only time of the year when a media reporter can directly ask a question to a CCP leader.
By convention, the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China will elect a new prime minister this fall. This time may be the last time Li Keqiang takes questions from domestic and foreign reporters as prime minister.
In addition to some party culture clichés, Li Keqiang’s response at the press conference has at least seven points of interest:
1. Responding to the Russian-Ukrainian War, Avoiding “Invasion” and Supporting Russia’s Economy
Regarding Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on February 24, Reuters asked: China has never condemned Russia’s actions, or called it an invasion. Does China never condemn Russia anyway? With Russia facing sanctions, will China provide further economic and financial support to Russia? Are you concerned that doing so will be negatively impacted by sanctions from other countries?
Li Keqiang sidestepped the question of why China did not condemn Russia and call it an invasion, and did not respond to any further economic and financial support for Russia. He only emphasized the CCP’s so-called “pursuing an independent foreign policy of peace”, saying that “China maintains that the sovereignty and territorial integrity of all countries should be respected, the purposes and principles of the UN Charter should be abided by, and the legitimate security concerns of countries should also be taken seriously.”
Li Keqiang said that he “calls for maximum restraint” and “will continue to provide humanitarian assistance to Ukraine”, but added that “the relevant sanctions will have an impact on the recovery of the world economy and will be detrimental to all parties.” He basically repeated what Xi said during a video meeting with French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Scholz on March 8.
After Russia’s sudden invasion of Ukraine last month, China’s ambiguous attitude has sparked international discontent. The CCP has always avoided condemning Moscow, and has even been reluctant to call the Russian invasion of Ukraine an “aggression.” The CCP has repeatedly abstained from voting on resolutions condemning Russia, and has also refused to participate in the economic sanctions imposed on Russia by major countries in the world. On the other hand, the CCP has secretly helped Russia economically. As early as before the Beijing Winter Olympics, Putin and Xi Jinping issued a joint statement after their talks. After the United States and Europe announced sanctions against Russia, the CCP immediately announced to expand imports of Russian wheat.
However, as the war between Russia and Ukraine stalemate, Xi Jinping called for “maximum restraint” during a video meeting with leaders of Germany and France, and Beijing’s pro-Russian stance seems to have changed subtly. But Xi still stressed that sanctions are not good for all parties.
Qiu Junrong, director of the Department of Economics at Taiwan’s Central University, told The Epoch Times that Xi Jinping’s remarks showed that Beijing was beginning to worry that it would be greatly implicated in the follow-up, and is now very careful.
2. Suspected not naming the chain girl incident and expressing anger: resolutely hold accountable
Some party media asked about people’s livelihood, and Li Keqiang took the initiative to mention the issue of safeguarding women’s rights and interests. Very angry about this.”
He said that “for those who ignore the rights and interests of the masses, we must resolutely pursue accountability and accountability, and we must severely crack down on those criminal acts of abducting and selling women and children, and punish them severely.”
Since January this year, the iron chain girl incident in Feng County, Xuzhou, Jiangsu has continued to ferment, shocking both at home and abroad. A woman who allegedly gave birth to eight children was chained in a shabby house by her man. Later, it was revealed that she was abducted and sold to the village when she was a minor, and was subjected to inhuman abuse such as gang rape, drug injection, and tooth extraction, resulting in mental disorders.
Netizens have successively exposed the serious human trafficking under the CCP’s rule, but the CCP’s officials have issued five reports in succession, all of which are difficult to convince the public. Li Ying, a Sichuan girl who disappeared at the age of 12. The last official briefing dealt with only 17 lower-level officials. At present, the civil society and the international community are still following up on the incident.
High-level officials in Zhongnanhai have been silent on the chain girl incident.
Li Youtan, a professor at Taiwan’s National Chengchi University, previously told The Epoch Times that the biggest problem for the CCP now is that Xi Jinping wants to make an exception for re-election, which has become the biggest political issue at present. , Everyone is looking at the wind direction and dare not express it casually.”
Wu Shaoping, a human rights lawyer living in the United States, believes that the iron chain woman itself is a bad thing, and it has exceeded everyone’s bottom line, causing people to be strongly dissatisfied. But in fact, the CCP officials from the highest level to the lower level tried to conceal this matter together, and the result was always exposed and could not stand the torture.
3. Acknowledging that the unemployment problem seriously advocates “flexible employment”
A reporter from CCTV asked: Some companies have unstable expectations, job cuts in some industries, and layoffs in some companies. On the other hand, the new need for employment is increasing.
In his response, Li Keqiang mentioned the seriousness of the employment problem, but did not use the word “unemployment” at all: “This year, the number of new urban laborers in need of employment has reached about 16 million, the highest in many years. There are 10.76 million college graduates, the highest in history. There are still nearly 300 million migrant workers who have the opportunity to work, and the employment of retired soldiers must be guaranteed. There are still some companies who live and die, and some people have to re-employ.”
Regarding the solution to employment, Li Keqiang only mentioned two things: First, we should provide them with various support measures such as training, and use market-oriented methods to solve the employment problem. Second, “flexible employment has to be mentioned here, because there are more than 200 million people in various forms and wide coverage.”
The so-called “flexible employment” is what the general public refers to as “freelance”.
The well-known self-media “Financial Business World” analyzed that flexible employment is just like calling unemployed workers laid-off workers in the past, but it’s just a better term.
The analysis pointed out that due to the CCP’s crackdown policy on various industries, coupled with the epidemic, the unemployment rate in mainland China is very high, many people have difficulty finding jobs, and those who have jobs are also facing the dilemma of being laid off, so many people turn to investment When it comes to freelance jobs such as online car-hailing and delivery, the CCP’s hot promotion of “flexible employment” is to cover up the difficulty of finding employment and the fact that the unemployment rate is rising.
4. No clear statement in response to the controversy over the dynamic clearing of the epidemic prevention policy
A foreign media reporter asked if the CCP is considering making its current “dynamic zero” epidemic prevention and control policy more sustainable? Is there a roadmap for “opening up” to the world?
In this regard, Li Keqiang did not make a clear statement, but said: “We will make prevention and control more scientific and precise according to the changes in the epidemic situation and the characteristics of the virus… We will continue to accumulate experience, respond to possible changes in a timely manner, and gradually improve logistics. , the flow of people is orderly and smooth.”
International public opinion has been criticizing the CCP’s tough reset and epidemic prevention policy, which has affected the global supply chain and industrial chain, but a few days before the opening of the two sessions, a CCP spokesman argued that the CCP “takes the lead in restoring economic growth and safeguarding the global industrial chain and supply chain”. Chain Stability”. The CCP spokesman also said that the CCP’s anti-epidemic policy is so-called low-cost and effective.
Taiwan’s general economist Wu Jialong told The Epoch Times that the CCP’s insistence on the zero-clearing policy is for the benefit of the nucleic acid testing industry in the future and to make money from the epidemic.
5. Emphasize that China and the United States should have more dialogues: no decoupling
In response to Sino-US relations, Li Keqiang said: “We still need more dialogue and communication. Since the two sides have opened the door to each other, it should not be closed again, let alone decoupled.”
In recent years, with the deterioration of Sino-US relations, the Chinese Communist Party has taken a tough diplomatic stance on the one hand, but on the other hand, on the economic front, a group of practical officials have softened their posture, indicating that China and the United States will not decouple.
For example, within one day on April 13, 2021, from the Chinese Premier Li Keqiang to the National Development and Reform Commission of the Communist Party of China, to the Chinese ambassador to Canada, all expressed their desire to strengthen communication with Western companies. When Li Keqiang attended an online meeting of US business leaders that day, he urged US companies not to decouple from the mainland economy, saying that problems arising from cooperation “must be resolved in cooperation” and that “decoupling” would not benefit anyone , would “hurt the world”. Li Keqiang also promised that the CCP “will only open wider to the outside world”.
Wang He, a current affairs observer, analyzed the Epoch Times earlier that the CCP has changed from “keeping a low profile” to engaging in “wolf warrior diplomacy.” Although the CCP wants to challenge the United States and keep pace with the United States, it also knows that there is actually a big gap. I don’t want to have a direct face-to-face collision with the US, and I’m more worried about the US decoupling between China and the US.
6. Li Keqiang’s self-assessment: he did his best
The Singaporean media asked Li Keqiang’s self-assessment on this term as Prime Minister, reviewing his achievements and biggest challenges. Li Keqiang said that the government’s “biggest challenge is the new crown epidemic and its severe impact on the economy.” He said he “did his best”.
After talking about achievements and shortcomings, Li Keqiang still mentioned the so-called “strong leadership” of the CPC Central Committee with Xi Jinping at its core.
Li Keqiang is considered the weakest prime minister in the history of the CCP.
The British media “The Economist” once said in an article titled “Very Chinese-style batting” that Li Keqiang is the weakest Chinese prime minister in recent decades, and his problem is not incompetence, but more. Mainly because of impotence.
The Economist believes that Liu He, Xi’s chief economic adviser, has overwhelmed Premier Li Keqiang. And Li Keqiang is only a scapegoat. But Xi’s style is closer to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s strongman politics, and the risk is that once the economy goes horribly wrong and the party’s reputation plummets, making Li Keqiang a scapegoat may not be enough.
7. Li Keqiang’s cold response to “common prosperity”
Japan’s Kyodo News asked that the CCP government promotes “common prosperity” and proposes to set up “traffic lights” in order to prevent the disorderly expansion of capital, and especially strengthen the supervision of Internet companies. Foreign capital, on the other hand, is concerned that the CCP will further restrict corporate behavior because of the goal of shared prosperity.
Li Keqiang only said one sentence to “common prosperity”: “When we say common prosperity, that means we must work together.” Then he changed the subject and said, “China’s opening-up policy has not changed and will not change.”
He also argued that the purpose of opposing monopoly and unfair competition and preventing the disorderly expansion of capital is to support enterprises that operate in accordance with the law, and so on.
“Nikkei Asian Review” published an article on March 10 that pointed out that in the “Report on the Work of the Government” published by Li Keqiang on the 5th, Xi Jinping’s new landmark policy of “common prosperity” was only mentioned once, and Hangzhou was not even mentioned as an example. The “demonstration area” plan of “common prosperity” also did not mention the “third distribution” system. The system calls for voluntary donations from tech giant Alibaba Group and high earners.
But the focus of the report is on the “new urbanization plan” that Li Keqiang has been promoting. The Nikkei reported that “common prosperity” was initially considered to be the central issue of the National Congress, but now it appears to have been put on the back burner.
Responsible editor: Lin Congwen#