China’s new leaders are promising not a great leap forward, but a renaissance for the people and better ties with the US.
Incoming President Xi Jinping pledged to work with President Barack Obama on “a new type of relationship” for the sake of peace in the Asia-Pacific region.
“China and the United States should have sound interactions in the Asia-Pacific region and starting from this we can move to build a new type of relationship between powers,” he said.
“That will also be good for peace and development in the Asia-Pacific region and the world at large.”
In his keynote speech, Xi also told the annual National People’s Congress to fight corruption and reject extravagance: “To achieve the Chinese dream, China must take the Chinese way. The Chinese dream, after all, is the dream of the people. We must achieve it by closely depending on the people.
“We must incessantly bring benefits to the people. China is still in the primary stage of socialism and will remain so for a long time to come. It is a glorious mission and a profound responsibility for us to realise the Chinese dream and create better lives for the people.
Prime Minister Li Keqiang promised reform, focusing on fighting corruption and shaking up what he called “vested interests” – the people with power and money – even though many of them are connected with state-owned enterprises.
Anti-smog iron fist
Li stressed economic growth is the government’s top priority but with less pollution. “We should not pursue economic growth at the expense of the environment. Such growth won’t satisfy the people,” he said adding that it should come about through the ending of what he called “backward production facilities.”
Air quality at “very unhealthy” and “hazardous” levels for months has led to public anger and even riots.
Beijing will set deadlines to tackle pollution caused by man-made factors. Li said: “We need to face the situation and punish offenders with no mercy and enforce the law with an iron fist.”
Li’s remarks at his debut press conference as premier were the highest-level public comments on the problem to date.
Hacking? Not us
Just as opaque as the air in parts of China is the country’s role in cyber-hacking attacks on the United States.
A US computer security company said last month that a secretive Chinese military unit was likely behind a series of such attacks, mostly targeting the states.
The new leaders deny Bejing is involved. They insist that China been a victim of hacking as well and they would like cyber-security cooperation with Washington.
“I think we should not make groundless accusations against each other, and spend more time doing practical things that will contribute to cyber-security,” Premier Li said.