Striving for balance

Updated: 2014-03-14 07:41

(China Daily)

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At a news conference where topics of concern were as diverse as they could be, Premier Li Keqiang's answers displayed the confident and no-nonsense style that has come to characterize the current leadership.

Despite the ostensible absence of hot potatoes, his responses revealed impressive awareness of the difficulties the country faces. Even on the perceived risks associated with China's financial sectors and local government debts, an outstanding risk worrying global economic observers, Li expressed full confidence that the feared scenarios can be prevented from materializing.

Citing last year's success in avoiding the predicted hard-landing to justify his optimism, Li assured us everything is under control, that his government is enhancing the monitoring of the risks and taking precautions.

While reiterating "zero tolerance" to corruption, he promised to adopt the "rule of law", and to "manage power and money with systems". The idea to streamline administrative approval and draw boundaries for public powers has inspired high hopes society-wide. We are keen to learn what the "systematic measures" he pledged will be, and to what extent they will leave corruption "nowhere to hide".

Li's candid, yet at the same time dialectical, replies revealed the tricky balancing acts his government must work hard to accomplish.

Answering the question about relations with neighboring countries, Li stated that the country's resolve to pursue a path of peaceful development is "unswerving", while its will to preserve integrity of its sovereignty and territories is "unshakeable".

Reconciling both while maintaining good-neighborliness will prove a severe test of the leadership's wisdom in handling regional tensions, especially as outsider interference is intensifying.

Another essential balance to be struck lies between the need to stabilize growth and ensure employment and at the same time prevent inflation and control risks, all the while improving the quality and efficiency of growth, and harnessing pollution.

But hard as it may be, striking this balance is likely to be more achievable than those beyond the economic realm. We have seen proof of the government's competence in managing the economy.

It will be a lot more difficult to maneuver a balance between civil rights and public powers. Letting market participants "do whatever the law does not prohibit" and government agencies "do nothing the law does not authorize" will be easier said than done.

Finding a reasonable balancing point for multiple goals will be difficult, but it has to be done.

(China Daily 03/14/2014 page11)