Prime minister’s annual work report sets poverty alleviation and environmental goals

As in previous years, premier Li Keqiang delivered a government work report to the opening session of the National People’s Congress in Beijing’s Great Hall of the People on March 5. During the session, the Chinese premier reported on the government work of the past five years, and put forward suggestions for this year’s work on behalf of the State Council. His report touched widely upon fields of interest for the NGO sector, including poverty alleviation, child welfare protection, the elimination of discrimination and environmental protection. 

The report stated that in the past five years people’s lives have continued to improve, and provided some relevant statistics. The number of people in poverty decreased by more than 68 million, the average annual income of residents increased by 7.4%, and social pension insurance expanded to cover more than 900 million people. Moreover, it was stressed that the state of the environment has been slowly improving, and major cities have reduced the number of days with heavily polluted air by half. After going through these achievements, the premier’s report put forward several targets for the future, including a reduction in energy consumption per unit of GDP of at least 3.4% and further reductions in the release of major pollutants, the creation of at least 11 million new urban jobs, and the keeping of the surveyed urban unemployment rate under 5.5% and the registered urban unemployment rate under 4.5%.

The report further lists various tasks connected with the policy targets of lifting 10 million people in rural areas out of poverty and resettling more than 2.8 million residents of poor areas. Another issue highlighted is the battle against air pollution: the report focuses on the need to strengthen the control of air pollution, reduce emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrogen oxide to 3% and continue to cut down the levels of PM 2.5 particles in the air of major cities.

Li Keqiang’s also stressed the necessity to increase social security benefits and improve the people’s livelihood. The premier mentioned the importance of eliminating discrimination in employment based on gender and identity, and promoted mutual community-support for the aged as a way of meeting the challenge posed by the ageing of the population.