China premier pledges to 'accelerate' economic reforms

Published September 30, 2013

| AFP

China's Premier Li Keqiang pledged to "accelerate" government efforts to restructure the world's second-largest economy on Monday, the eve of the country's National Day.

"Development is our top priority," Li said to an audience of 2,500 guests at Beijing's Great Hall of the People.

"We will accelerate the shift in growth model, intensify economic restructuring and make vigorous efforts to boost domestic demand."

China's economy expanded 7.7 percent in 2012, its slowest pace in 13 years. Year-on-year growth continued at 7.7 percent in the first three months of this year before dropping to 7.5 percent in April-June.

Analysts say China needs to restructure its economy to ensure long-term growth, in particular by boosting domestic consumption.

Li pledged to build a "law-based government" so that "all types of market players can compete and develop in a fair, transparent and predictable environment".

Li has reportedly been a driving force behind the Shanghai free-trade zone that opened on Sunday as a experimental model for future changes nationwide.

Economic reforms are expected to be announced at a plenary meeting of the ruling Communist Party scheduled for November.

Nonetheless restructuring is expected to be an uphill battle given powerful vested interests that benefit from the current economic model.

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