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NO.9 (April 15, 2004)

Premier Wen Jiabao Meets the Press

On the afternoon of March 14, 2004, the Second Session of the 10th National People's Congress (NPC) held a press conference at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. At the invitation of Jiang Enzhu, Spokesman of the NPC Session, Premier Wen Jiabao met the press and answered questions given by Chinese and foreign journalists.

       Premier Wen: Good afternoon ladies and gentlemen, it is a great pleasure to see you again. First of all, I would like to extend my deep thanks to our people, for their tremendous interests in the NPC and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) sessions, and in the Government Work Report that I delivered, and they are also showing a lot of attention and interests in this press conference. They have posted to me a lot of questions, ideas and suggestions through various channels, which moved me greatly. Here I would also like to extend my thanks to international friends who are showing interests and support to the development of China. Not long ago, I received a letter from more than 30 middle school students from Topeka in Kansas, the United States. In the letter, they asked about 54 questions, which touched upon various aspects of China's political system, economic development, and cultural and social characteristics. They also asked about my personal life and hobbies: What food do I like? Do I practice kungfu? What size of shoes do I wear? That shows that these people are turning their eyes to China. So I think I would select a couple of questions to address here as a token of my respect. A friend asked me to describe the work of the government for this year and in the future through poetic lines. So here I would like to give two quotations of poems written by two great men. The first quotation is from Chairman Mao. He wrote in a poem, "Idle boast the strong pass is a wall of iron, with firm strides, we are crossing its summit." And the other is from the ancient poet Qu Yuan: "My journey is long and winding, and I will keep on exploiting my way far and wide."
       CCTV: It was roughly about this time last year that the rampant SARS epidemic had made people seriously worried. The pressure you felt then as the new premier of China was probably unimaginably intense to the people in the street. I remember you often said what a nation lost to disasters would be compensated for in its progress. My question is: How would you comment on the year that had just passed? You also remarked that a nation's coherence that formed in the course of disastrous experiences would undoubtedly boost the unity and progress of that nation. Then, what do you see are the most outstanding problems we will face in China's development this year? What do you anticipate are the most difficult issues?
       A: The past year indeed has been extraordinary for China. Under the leadership of the CPC Central Committee, and with the concerted efforts of the entire Chinese people, we won the important victory against SARS, and also scored obvious achievements in our economic and social development. These achievements have not come by easily. However, they are only a reflection of the past. So here I want to add that a wise nation is a nation that is good at learning, especially learning from problems and difficulties. What is important is not those achievements themselves, but rather the experiences, lessons, and inspirations we gained from these achievements. In terms of the work of the government for this year, we must have a sober mind. In security, we should never forget about the dangers, and in times of peace, we should always be in alert to the potential of the chaos. That is, we should always keep high alert on and guard against the potential risks and problems and clearly understand various difficulties and problems that may crop up in our way ahead. So the most important aspect of our work is to maintain stable and relatively fast economic growth. The most difficult issues we have to grapple with relate to agriculture, the rural areas and farmers. What I am most concerned about are those matters and issues that bear on the vital interests of our people. And the most fundamental way is to solve these problems through reform, innovation and forging ahead despite difficulties. We have the confidence and the means and we have the optimism that we will surely stand all new tests, and never fail the expectation of the Chinese people.
       CNN: During your last visit to Washington, President Bush clearly indicated his caution to both sides of the Taiwan Strait against taking unilateral steps that may change the status quo. But he also clearly indicated an opposition to Taiwan's plans to hold the referendum next week, which departs from usually ambiguous U.S. position on Taiwan. What did you do to make the United States change its position on this one? Did you scare them? Why is it important to China that the United States and other countries state their clear position on Taiwan? Do you think it will change or influence the outcomes of the elections and the referendum in Taiwan next week?
       A: The Taiwan question is a question left over from the civil war in China. It is an internal affair of China, and will be eventually resolved by the Chinese people. There is but one China in the world, both the mainland and Taiwan are part of China. The sovereignty and integrity of China allow no division. China's sovereignty over Taiwan has been explicitly recognized in the Cairo Declaration and the Potsdam Proclamation. And it is a principle universally recognized by the international community. However, some people in the Taiwan authorities had been trying to push for a referendum aimed at "Taiwan independence" under the pretext of promoting democracy. As a matter of fact, what they have been doing had undermined the one-China principle that is universally recognized in the world, and posed a threat to the stability in the Taiwan Strait area. Under such circumstances, it is only natural that all responsible countries in the world would make clear their position on this question. Here I would like to express my appreciation of the position that President Bush openly articulated on December 9 last year. And also I would like to express my appreciation for the solemn position expressed by various countries on this subject. 1 have to say that I did not use any kind of power or force to scare President Bush in this process, but I feel that such public statements about the commitment to the one-China policy by the United States and by other countries are in the interests of peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait. I hope the United States and other countries will faithfully abide by their commitment to one China and make due contributions for the maintenance of stability across the Taiwan Strait and peaceful reunification of China.
       XINHUA NEWS AGENCY: In the NPC and CPPCC sessions, some deputies and members voiced different opinions as to whether the Chinese economy is overheating. I wonder how do you look at this question. What macro-control measures will you adopt to prevent wild swings in the Chinese economy? I also noted your personal interests on the questions related to agriculture, the rural areas and farmers. And also last year, you helped a particular farmer worker named Xiong Deming to get back her wage arrears. This has led to a boom of getting back unpaid wages of farmer workers throughout the country. But I have to say that many people are not as lucky as Xiong Deming, and sometimes they encounter problems and grievances they cannot resolve by themselves, and their last resort is to petition to the higher authorities or visit these authorities. I wonder how you look at this social phenomenon. Have you received any letters of petition and how did you handle them?
       A: Indeed, I have said on many occasions that at present the Chinese economy is at a critical juncture. On one hand, last year, the economy has been growing very rapidly with markedly better returns and more dynamism in economic activities. But on the other hand, the deep-seated problems-imbalances in the economy-in the course of many years have not been fundamentally resolved. And new problems and imbalances keep cropping up in the process of rapid development, such as excessive investment scale, shortages in energy, transportation capacity and important raw materials, decrease in grain output for quite a number of years, and obvious trends of rising prices.
       All these problems must be addressed appropriately. That presents a new and very big challenge and test to the government. And this test is no less severe than the SARS epidemic we have to deal with last year. If we exercise the right macro control, we will be able to steer the big ship of the Chinese economy forward in a stable and relatively fast manner. But if we fail to manage the situation well, setbacks to the economy would be inevitable. Therefore, we have to clearly understand the severity of these problems. At a time when market mechanisms are expanding their role in China, and at a time when China is ever widely open to the outside world, macro control is more difficult than ever. That requires the government must exercise sound and effective macro control at the right times and with appropriate intensity. We must appropriately address and resolve outstanding problems and imbalances in our economic operation to ensure stable development of our economy.
       For your second question, let me just make very brief remarks on it. The fundamental way to resolve various problems and issues that affect the interests of our people lies in institution, policies and laws.
       LIANHE ZAOBAO: Recent years have witnessed ever close relations between China and ASEAN countries and ASEAN countries have started to see the benefits of the big market in China. China might evolve into the largest economy in this century. But under the current development model of China, China requires a lot of raw materials. My question is: What impact will the peaceful rise of China have on China's relations with other countries in the region in the long-term perspective?
       A: You talked about ASEAN countries, which reminds me the ASEAN meeting that I attended last year. I remembered on that occasion, Mr. Mahathir (Malaysian Prime Minister) and Mr. Gob Chok Tong (Singaporean Prime Minister) drew a very apt analogy between China and a friendly elephant. They told me that the rise of China will not pose a threat to their countries. China has a history of 5,000 years. We had glorious past, but we also suffered humiliation and subjugation. The rise of China and its rejuvenation are the dreams of the Chinese people of many generations. On the connotations of China's peaceful rise, let me make the following points:
       Firstly, in promoting China's peaceful rise, we must take full advantage of the very good opportunity of world peace to develop and strengthen ourselves, and at the same time safeguard world peace with our own development.
       Secondly, the rise of China can only be based on our own strength, based on our own independent, self-reliant and hard efforts and based on the broad market in China, abundant human resources, capital reserves and also the innovation of our systems as a result of reform.
       Thirdly, China's rise cannot be achieved without the rest of the world. We must always maintain our open policy and we must always develop economic and trade exchanges with all friendly countries on the basis of equality and mutual benefit.
       Fourthly, China's rise would require a lot of time and probably the hard work of many generations of the Chinese people.
       Fifthly, the rise of China will not stand in the way of any other country, pose a threat to any other country or be achieved at the expense of any particular country. China does not seek hegemony now, nor will we seek hegemony even after we become powerful.
       CHINA NATIONAL RADIO: China scored impressive achievements in economic development. Many people are interested in the question of political restructuring. My question is: What are the specific objectives for political restructuring this year and during the rest of the government tenure? Could you describe to us your vision of the political system that is consistent with China's conditions and the interests of our people?
       A: I think it was in this room last year that I compared socialism with a big ocean. The ocean never turns away streams, so it becomes wide and deep. That means that socialism can only develop itself by drawing upon all the fine fruits of advanced human civilization. Today, I would like to make a further comparison of socialism to a high mountain. The mountain never turns away stones so it becomes towering and strong. That means that socialism can only make progress by constant self-improvement and self-readjustment. I must make it very clear that from the very beginning China's reform program is comprehensive in nature, encompassing both economic reform and political restructuring. Without success in the political restructuring, the economic reform in China cannot eventually succeed.
       Here I would like to emphasize the institutional reform of the government. From the very first day when I assumed my office, I set for myself three objectives: The first was the establishment of a scientific and democratic decision-making mechanism, which includes collective decision making, consultation with experts and consultation with the people, the holding of public hearings, and the accountability mechanism. The government must administrate the country according to law and establish a government under the rule of law. Only when the government abides by law and exercises administration by law can we have a country under the rule of law.
       Secondly, in terms of administration by law, I want to highlight the need for the government to abide by law and be rational putting in place full-fledged procedures, be fair and just in administration, and provide high-efficiency service to the convenience of the people. The government must be clean and honest in honoring all its commitments and there must be combination of power and responsibility.
       Thirdly, the government must be put under the supervision of our people, including that through the NPC, and democratic supervision through the CPPCC. The government must listen to the views of various quarters, including public opinions and views from various people.
       Hong Kong TVB: Since Hong Kong's return to the motherland, each time Hong Kong encountered economic difficulties, the Central Government will extend vigorous support. For example, CEPA (the mainland Hong Kong Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement) was implemented and at the end of last year tourism for the people on the mainland was also opened in Hong Kong. So my question is: Will the political dispute in Hong Kong in recent time affect the Central Government's commitment to economic development of Hong Kong? What new measures will the Central Government take to support Hong Kong's economic growth? And how do you evaluate the prospect of Hong Kong's development?
       A: At the end of June last year, I was in Hong Kong for the signing ceremony of CEPA and, following that, I made a speech. I mentioned that some people believed that CEPA was a big gift I had brought to Hong Kong. But in my opinion, that the true big gift that was brought to Hong Kong was the message of the firm resolve of the new collective central leadership to unswervingly follow the policies of "one country, two systems," "Hong Kong people governing Hong Kong" and "high degree of autonomy" and our commitment to comply with the Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region. Not long ago I reaffirmed these principles held by the Central Government in my Government Work Report.
       I note with pleasure that since last year, Hong Kong's economy has started to rebound and people's livelihood has continued to rise. So the general situation is moving toward more stability. The Central Government has always cared a lot for our Hong Kong compatriots. To support the economic recovery and development in Hong Kong, we have instituted many measures in terms of commodity and service trades, the financial sector, tourism opening and infrastructure projects. Not long ago, in my meeting with Mr. Tung Chee-hwa from Hong Kong SAR, I heard from him new requests in terms of the Central Government's assistance for Hong Kong's economic development. The relevant agencies of the Central Government are seriously studying the suggestions he brought to us. I can tell you one thing that recently Hong Kong decided to issue treasury bonds worth HK$20 billion. The Central Government is quite positive about that. The principle we always follow is that we will actively undertake and give our full support to whatever is in the interest of the prosperity and stability of Hong Kong and common development between the mainland and Hong Kong.
       In terms of my hopes for our Hong Kong compatriots, I sincerely hope that the broad masses of our Hong Kong compatriots can set store by the interest of long-term prosperity and stability of Hong Kong and the long-term and fundamental interests of our Hong Kong compatriots. I hope they will focus on the interests of the whole nation, strengthen unity and make determined and hard efforts to develop Hong Kong. Hong Kong will surely have a better tomorrow. That is the unswerving conviction held by the entire Chinese people, including our Hong Kong compatriots.
       ARD German TV: About the Constitution, I was impressed to see how the Chinese citizens seem to care for the changes in the Constitution. Whoever we talk to in the last weeks and months told us that the Constitution and the rights and freedom that are guaranteed on paper don't mean much to them as long as the Communist Party, the ruling party, considers itself above the law. So people complain that the reality is even though the Constitution is more progressive, there is still no right of assembly, there is still no real right and freedom to speak, and there is no real press freedom. So my question is what do you, Premier Wen, plan to do to make sure that in the future, the law is above the Communist Party, rather than today that the Communist Party seems to be above the law.
       A: This amendment to the Chinese Constitution is of great significance for the development of China. And in fact, just a few minutes ago, the amended version of the Chinese Constitution was adopted by the NPC with overwhelming support. That is a reflection of the will of the Chinese people. In particular, the amended Constitution established the important thought of the "Three Represents" together with Marxism, Leninism, Mao Zedong Thought and Deng Xiaoping Theory as the guiding ideology for the whole Party and the country. This is of far-reaching significance for our country. Just now you asked about whether this amendment will truly be enforced in practice. Let me tell you that we always follow two principles. Firstly, the Party leads the people in the formulation of the Constitution, so therefore the Party leadership and entire membership should set an example in complying with the Constitution. Secondly, the Constitution is a fundamental law of China, and so both the Constitution and other laws are long fundamental and long term in nature. That means the Constitution will not be affected by changes in the leadership or changes in the attention of the leadership. So I believe that following the adoption of the Constitutional amendments, we will make serious efforts to carry them out in practice.
       Taiwan United Daily: Taiwan is going to hold an election and a referendum on March 20. What implications will the referendum and the election have on cross-Strait relations? Are you following these developments in Taiwan yourself? How do you look at the prospect for the development of the cross-Strait relations after the election and the referendum?
       A: Just now I have made the position of the Chinese Government on the question of Taiwan very clear. Now what I would do is to say a few words to our Taiwan compatriots through your newspaper.
       There is but one China in the world. The Chinese people, no matter living on the mainland or living on Taiwan, are linked together by flesh and blood. The strait that separates us can never cut off such bonds of flesh and blood.
       Next year marks the 110th anniversary of the Treaty of Shimonoseki. This reminded me of a poem composed of 28 characters written by a poet from Taiwan with blood and tears almost literally on the day of April 17, 1896. The poet was named Qiu Fengjia. He was from Changhua, Taiwan. He wrote, "On such a nice spring day, my heart was still heavy with sadness. So I went off to go sightseeing in the mountains, however, my mind always goes back to this day last year, when 4 million people on Taiwan cried the same tears of sorrow when Taiwan was ceded." And also I want to quote from another very famous literary figure on Taiwan, an indigenous writer named Zhong Lihe. He wrote, "Only when the blood of the native son flows back to his native place, will it stop boiling."
       The reason why we put forward the policies of peaceful reunification and "one country, two systems" is because we believe that these policies are in the immediate and long-term interests of all the Chinese people on the mainland and on Taiwan. The process for China's peaceful reunification will also be a process for the development and prosperity of both sides of the Taiwan Strait. Therefore, we'll exert our utmost to safeguard the stability in the Taiwan Strait. We'll exert our utmost to promote the three direct links, and economic, cultural and people-to-people exchanges between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait. We'll exert our utmost to press ahead with an early resumption of dialogue and negotiations between the two sides of the Taiwan Strait on the basis of one China. We'll exert our utmost efforts to advance the course of peaceful reunification of the motherland. However, we firmly oppose "Taiwan independence," we firmly oppose any attempt by any people to split Taiwan from the rest of China through any means. I think that's also the common will of all the Chinese people, including our Taiwan compatriots.
       Interfax: Could you identify to us the major international issues or questions that China and Russia share the same positions? Could you update us the development of energy cooperation between our two countries? And what is the prospect of such cooperation?
       A: China and Russia are friendly neighbors to each other as a familiar Russian saying goes, "We are predestined to be each other's neighbor." Our two countries share a common boundary line of more than 4,300 km and indeed our two countries should be friends forever and never fight each other. At present there is a sound momentum in the development of China-Russia relations. We established our objective that is the establishment of a strategic partnership. We put in place a mechanism that is annual meetings between the two presidents and regular meetings between the two prime ministers. We signed a treaty, that is, the China-Russia Treaty of Good-Neighborliness, Friendship and Cooperation. We also adopted four targets, that is, strengthening political mutual trust, enhancing economic and trade cooperation, promoting consultation on strategic matters and expanding nongovernmental exchanges.
       Tremendous potentials still exist in our economic exchanges and trade. The most important reason for that is because our two countries are highly complementary to each other and we have the advantage of the geographical proximity. Though some problems have occurred in the oil pipeline issue, I am still confident about energy cooperation between our two countries. I believe that President Putin and the Russian people will work to strengthen their friendly cooperation with China in the exploitation and development of oil and natural gas, the construction of oil pipelines, and also in power generation.
       People's Daily: Anti-corruption has always been a close concern for many people. Since last year the Party Central Committee has stepped up efforts to root out corruption. Quite a number of officials including some at the ministerial level were punished. You also mentioned in your Government Work Report that the tasks for self-improvement of the government and the fight against corruption remain arduous. My question is how do you see the current fight against corruption? In what aspects will your government strengthen its efforts to build a clean government and stamp out corruption?
       A: This year, according to the Chinese chronology, happens to be the year of Jiashen. You mentioned about counter-corruption. I remembered in the last year of Jiashen, which was 60 years ago, Chairman Mao recommended that all the Party members read an article written by Guo Moruo, titled On the Third Centenary of the Demise of the Ming Dynasty. Chairman Mao admonished the entire Party not to commit the mistake of becoming arrogant and adopt depraved life styles following our victory. Later on he urged the whole Party to be sure to remain modest and prudent and guard against rashness and arrogance and to be sure to continue to live plainly and work hard. Sixty years have passed. Many members of our Party stood this test but some failed by succumbing to the sugar-coated bomb shells.
       It is my long-held view that at stake, in the counter-corruption struggle, is the very survival of our Party and our country. The government has adopted counter-corruption and building a clean government as one of its priorities. Specifically we will focus on the following three areas. Firstly, we will endeavor to put in place a corruption prevention and punishment system that includes education, legal system and supervision. Secondly, I made a solemn commitment in front of the NPC session that we will firmly investigate into and punish all cases of breaking laws and regulations, we will firmly deal with and punish corrupt officials, and we will make firm efforts to reverse the unhealthy conducts on the part of officials. Thirdly, we have also incorporated eight areas of specific endeavors as the main elements in our counter-corruption struggle as these eight areas bear on the interests of our population.
       Here I want to tell all of you that my colleagues and I readily submit ourselves to the supervision of our people. In my mind I can see happy and smiling faces of our people. I also see them putting forward their requests and demands out of their sorrow. But what I see first and foremost are the expectations that people have on our work. So we as government must always forge ahead and make unswerving efforts despite difficulties and hardships. And that we, as government, must devote all our energy, commitment and hard work for the interests of our people.
       Press Trust of India: How do you evaluate India-China relations during the past one year? And I would like to know if any positive achievements have been made during the boundary negotiations between our two countries?
       A: On this subject I recalled one remark I made to Indian Defense Minister Fernandes in my conversation with him, which I later learnt had spread to many house-holds and people in India. I told him that the duration of time when China and India enjoy friendly relations stretched 2,000 years, or 99.9 percent of our total interactions. In terms of conflict, the conflict between our two countries only lasted two years, or less than 0.1 percent of the total time of our interactions. Even in the case of conflict, we could always turn swords into ploughs. Last year, Prime Minister Vajpayee paid a friendly visit to China and that visit was very important. We signed the Declaration on the Principles and Comprehensive Cooperation in China-India Relations. And since then we have been in a stage of all-round development of our relations based on comprehensive cooperation.
       I can tell you that special envoys on the boundary question of the two countries have already held two rounds of talks. I'm confident that as long as we adhere to the principle of peaceful coexistence, respect each other, and seek mutual understanding and mutual accommodation, we will surely be able to resolve the issues left over from history. And our two countries, as two biggest countries in Asia, can always be friends and partners for cooperation.
       Here I also want to say a few words about South Asia. The development of relations between China and South Asian countries is not targeted at any third country. I note with pleasure the sound and friendly momentum that has lately emerged in India-Pakistan relations. China hopes to see peace and stability in South Asia.
       South China Morning Post: At present the reform of state-owned commercial banks has entered into a substantive stage. The government has re-capitalized these banks for three times in a row, but are you fearful that this might trigger the potential for moral hazard on the part of these banks? Secondly, in a recent meeting, you raised the hope that the Bank of China (BOC) and the China Construction Bank (CCB) will become true commercial banks in three years' time. Does this signify a change in the timetable for the listing of these two banks?

       A: In the past few years, the state-owned commercial banks have made some progress in their operations, but problems are still numerous. Mainly these problems include high NPL (non-performing loans) ratios. The total non-performing assets ratio in the Big Four (the four state-owned commercial banks including the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, the Agricultural Bank of China, the BOC and the CCB) account for about 20 percent, or 2 trillion yuan almost. The second problem is low capital adequacy in these banks. And thirdly, the banks are not performing very well in terms of realizing profitability. I think the fundamental reasons for this lie in institutions and mechanisms.
       The Central Government has made the decisive move of adopting shareholding reforms in the BOC and the CCB and has injected capital to the amount of $45 billion to these banks for that purpose. This measure has generally drawn a positive response from within China and outside, but many people are still worried. So here I want to make it clear that this latest reform is different from other reform measures in the sense that it clearly puts down a clear-cut objective that is state-owned banks should adopt market mechanisms, advance ownership structure reform and reform their corporate governance standards. So all in all, the reform is designed to turn these state-owned commercial banks into modem commercial banks. Secondly, we have put in place safe guard measures and clearly assigned responsibilities. For example, in the reform process, the leaders of these two banks must put in place safety measures for the state-injected capital to ensure the preservation and appreciation of the value of state capital. And they must undertake the responsibility of lowering NPL ratios. Thirdly, the crucial aspect of the success of this reform lies in management and lies in competence of people in the banks. I always call a spade a spade. I think I'm somewhat troubled by the last two aspects. But there is no alternative. This reform for us is a make-or-break reform and success is the only acceptable option. We cannot afford to lose and we cannot afford to see a failure, when such a vigorous and dramatic measure was adopted. So we must make determined efforts to ensure the success of this reform.
       NHK: I have a question about China-Japan relationship. We all feel that China-Japan relationship is basically quite good. But because of the historical problem and because of the lack of understanding about each other's cultures and national conditions, there has been nothing like true friendship between the two countries at the level of top leaders and among the people. I learnt from a speech you made that when you were young, your family experienced the trauma of Japanese war of aggression against China. What is your personal view about Japan? What should China and Japan do in future to realize a true friendship?
       A: It is first to say the main stream in China-Japan relations is quite good. Since the resumption of diplomatic relations between the two countries, the two countries have moved forward consistently in exchanges in various areas-political affairs, economy, nongovernmental exchanges, cultural exchanges and others. Trade between our two countries topped $130 billion every year and each year there have been 3 million visits between the two countries. And we also have more than 200 pairs of sister cities.
       Now the main problem in China-Japan relationship lies in the fact that some leaders in Japan keep visiting the Yasukuni Shrine, which enshrines Class----A war criminals. This has hurt the pride of the Chinese people and people in other Asian countries. In fact, in China those who suffered from the Japanese war of aggression were by no means a small number of families. More than 20 million people died as a result of Japanese aggression. We hope that Japanese leaders will strictly abide by the three China-Japan political documents, and can truly draw lessons from history and look forward to the future. We hope they will refrain from doing anything that hurts the dignity of the Chinese people or that affects the normal exchange of high-level visits and the normal development of relations between our two countries. I sincerely hope that Japanese leaders will set store by the large interest in China-Japan relations, faithfully abide by the spirit of the three China-Japan political documents and make efforts to take friendly China-Japan cooperation forward.
       AP: Premier Wen, you have promised to make ordinary people your priority. One of the things that has been discussed among them in recent days is a letter asking the government to declare the 1989 Tiananmen demonstration a patriotic movement. What is the government's response to this and how China can address people's concern about this? Are you to declare the 1989 demonstration a patriotic movement?
       A: Indeed I have addressed this question many times and let me repeat my answer to you on this occasion too. At the end of the 1980s and in the beginning of the 1990s, China faced a serious political turbulence. At that time, the Soviet Union disintegrated and drastic changes took place in Eastern Europe. So at that critical moment what hung in the balance were the future of our Party and the future of our country. At that time, the Party Central Committee closely rallied the whole Party and all the Chinese people together. We adhered to the lines and policies adopted since the Third Plenary Session of the 11th Party Central Committee, and we successfully stabilized the general situation of reform and opening up in China and safeguarded the cause of building socialism with Chinese characteristics.
       Fifteen years have passed. During this time, tremendous achievements were made in China's reform, opening up and socialist modernization. These achievements are self-evidence to all. I think a very important contributing factor is the fact that we have always upheld unity of the Party and safeguarded social and political stability in this country. The next 20 years will be a very important period of strategic opportunities for China's development. We must concentrate all our time, energy and efforts on development of our country and we should never lose any opportunities. So we can imagine that if China could have another 20 to 50 years of development, our country will surely emerge stronger than ever before. So unity and stability are of overriding importance, and they are also the aspects that I most concern about as premier of this country.

       (Transcript of records by Beijing Review)

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