གཟའ་ཟླ་བ། ༢༠༢༤/༠༤/༡༥

China's Premier Stresses Need For Open and Fair Markets, Other Reforms

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao says his country needs to build more open and fair markets. It was among a list of reforms that the leader laid out at the close of the annual session of the National People's Congress, China's parliament. VOA's Luis Ramirez reports from Beijing.

This year, delegates at the two-week congress passed a controversial property rights bill - the first of its kind since the Communist Party took control in 1949.

The bill's passage underscores China's move away from traditional socialism. In his remarks to journalists at the end of the congress Friday, Premier Wen said China must further liberalize its stock markets and build a more transparent financial system.

"Our goal is to build a mature capital market. We need to first, improve the quality of listed companies," he said. "Second, we need to put in place an open, fair, transparent market system. And third, we need to strengthen oversight."

Insider trading, poor regulation and limited corporate disclosure have helped make China's markets volatile, as seen two weeks ago when a plunge in the Shanghai exchange shook markets in the United States and Europe.

The Chinese parliament also passed a corporate tax bill that ends the preferential treatment that foreign companies have long received.

In his remarks Friday, Premier Wen called for more efforts to fight corruption. The comments reflect the government's effort to address injustices that have triggered thousands of protests each year - many of them by farmers angry over illegal land grabs.

"Corruption cases have occurred one after another and corruption has become more serious, sometimes involving high-ranking officials. To address this problem, we need to start our efforts in the institutions," he said. "The most important cause, however, is the over-concentration of power without effective restraints and oversight."

Mr. Wen also repeated a theme heard at previous NPC sessions - that China must close the income gap between rural communities and the cities. Mr. Wen said the government needs to do more to ensure that everyone shares in China's rapid economic growth.

Mr. Wen also talked about China's relationships in the region, saying Beijing wants to improve ties with Japan, which have been strained by territorial and historical disputes. He said China remains committed to the peaceful use of outer space, despite its test in January of a satellite-destroying weapon.

The premier stressed that Beijing considers Taiwan a part of Chinese territory and remains opposed to moves by the self-ruled island to formalize its independence.

On Tibet, another touchy subject for Beijing, Wen said the Communist leadership is willing to hold consultations with the Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, if he gives up what the government says are his secessionist efforts.