Premier hails work of foreign experts
Updated: 2014-01-22 08:17
By Zhao Yinan (China Daily USA)
'Wisdom and painstaking efforts' have helped modernization push
Premier Li Keqiang on Tuesday thanked foreign experts working in China for their contribution to the country's modernization drive.
"What China has achieved in its reform and opening-up should be attributed not only to the hard work of the Chinese people, but also to the wisdom and painstaking efforts of the foreign experts," Li said during a meeting.
"The Chinese people will never forget this," he said.
Apart from expressing his gratitude to the overseas experts, Li also sought their ideas on China's economic development and urbanization.
He also briefed his 70-plus foreign guests on the latest economic situation.
Li said the government has always made developing the economy and improving people's livelihoods a priority for its work.
China achieved its annual goals for economic and social development set at the start of last year thanks to its efforts in maintaining growth, on reform and in improving economic restructuring, he said.
Despite the slow global economic recovery and downside pressure domestically, China saw its gross domestic product grow by 7.7 percent last year.
This "was no easy task" given the huge base of the world's second-largest economy, Li said.
He also noted that the government created 13 million jobs in 2013, the most for several years.
In the first half of 2013, "there was even talk, at home and abroad, that the economy was facing a hard landing", Li recalled.
He dismissed concerns over an economic slowdown.
"To put it straight, China's GDP growth cannot be compared with a decade ago, when the size was much smaller," he said.
The economy grew last year by 5 trillion yuan ($820 billion), which was its total size in 1994, he said.
"We could find no parallels among the world's major economies in this regard," Li said, while adding that he hopes China will continue to maintain stable and healthy growth in 2014.
He said the nation's economy has entered a new stage, with the emphasis on quality, efficiency and technological upgrading. But no progress will be made without innovation and a huge talent pool.
To adapt to the situation, Li said the government will promote innovation and introduce foreign talent to serve China's need for economic and social development.
"We would like you to see China as your second home," he told foreign experts at the gathering.
"We welcome foreign experts continuing to participate in and facilitating our reform and opening-up," he said, while promising to make their lives and work more satisfactory in China.
With the Lunar New Year approaching, Li also extended new year greetings to the foreign experts and their families.
John Lawson Thornton, chairman of the board of the Brookings Institution, said he agrees with China's urbanization strategy, which concentrates on the growth of smaller and medium-sized cities, instead of creating more mega-cities.
He said the strategy could work better if economic ties can be formed to link these metropolitan networks.
Integrating rural residents into urban living and creating a low-carbon model for urban expansion are another two challenges for China's urbanization, he said.
Alistair Michie, secretary-general of the UK-based 48 Group Club, a business networking organization, emphasized the role of the service sector in China's economic growth.
He said that although some trades in the service sector, such as logistics and hairdressing, have seen rapid development in China, the high-end service industry has not made much progress in recent years.
Michie suggested launching several "water-testing" programs in the Shanghai Free Trade Zone to allow private investment to enter the sector and to attract more overseas talent from the service industry.
Premier Li Keqiang chats with John Lawson Thornton, chairman of the board of the Brookings Institution (left), Canadian educationist Isabel Crook and other foreign experts at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Tuesday. Feng Yongbin / China Daily
(China Daily USA 01/22/2014 page1)