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Chinese premier Li Keqiang holds press conference at close of NPC

Premier Li Keqiang gave his annual press conference at the end of the National People's Congress.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang held a news conference Wednesday at the end of the annual meeting of parliament.

Speaking to reporters at his annual press conference, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang touched on growth targets, unemployment risks, corporate debt and other topics.

They were mostly a repetition of remarks he made on March 5 at the opening of the National People's Congress.

On Wednesday he said that the economy was facing difficulties but was not in danger of a hard landing.

Li also said that weak trade posed a threat to development. He downplayed growth expectations, but praised a "hugely resilient" economy.

Move to market economy

As the country's top economic official, he expressed confidence that Beijing can carry out plans to shrink bloated steel and coal industries while still meeting its economic growth target of 6.5 to 7 percent. He also promised to make it easier to set up private businesses and said that financial markets will be made more market-oriented to support growth.

"We will continue to pursue market-oriented reform," said Li.

Concerns about rising debts and potential bad loans at banks were acknowledged but he said that debt levels were manageable due to large reserves at financial institutions and a high savings rate.

"We are still in a good position to defuse debt risks," he said.

Beijing's refusal to grant full democracy to Hong Kong has been the subject of much unrest. He said that the “one country, two systems” policy had not changed and would not change.

As for China's relationship with Japan, Li noted the relationship had improved but remained fragile.

Japan meanwhile has been keeping an eye on Chinese activities in the South China Sea where there are territorial disputes with several southeast Asian nations.

av/rc (AP, Reuters)

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