BEIJING, March 13 (Xinhua) -- Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Thursday vowed to make financial and fiscal reforms a priority in the country's overall reform agenda, but also promised to promote social fairness and people's livelihoods to bridge the widening wealth gap.
During a press conference lasting nearly two hours shortly after the conclusion of China's annual parliamentary session, Li responded to a wide array of concerns, ranging from the ongoing search for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight and air pollution, to debt risks and the country's relations with the United States.
Almost a quarter of the questions raised by journalists were related to China's economic development and reforms.
Li, the first senior central government leader to hold a doctoral degree in economics, answered the questions with his characteristic ease and expressive hand gestures.
He said China's growth target of around 7.5 percent in 2014 is "flexible," but also underscored the importance of a proper growth to deliver enough jobs.
Li emphasized that China's economy has "tremendous potential and resilience," and that the country has the ability and conditions to keep its economic operations steady.
"We will press ahead with fiscal, tax and financial reforms as our priorities this year," he said, adding that the ultimate goal is to fully energize the market and the creativity of society.
To achieve the goal, the Chinese premier said, the government will better handle the relationship between the state and the market, allowing latter to play a "decisive" role in the allocation of resources and making the government play a better role.
Li's latest pledges came as China's economy is shifting into a lower gear and focusing more on quality development.
Its development dilemma is reflected by its sizzling property market, corruption and the bouts of choking smog that have become more common in recent years.
"Corruption is a natural enemy of the people's government," Li told the press conference, reiterating his "zero-tolerance" approach to corrupt officials, no matter who they are.
He vowed tough measures and regulations to fight pollution and a differential approach to curb speculation in the housing market.
The premier downplayed the risk in China's government debt, saying it is generally within control. But he also admitted that China has set a timetable concerning regulation over shadow banking.
Three major tasks Li said his government faces this year are to meet people's basic living needs, to provide a safety net for people to fall back on in case of special difficulty, and to promote social fairness.
Regarding its relations with the United States, Li said that the world's two largest economies should expand common interests while respecting each other's core interests and major concerns and properly managing differences to raise the level of the bilateral relationship.
"The wise people will seek their common interests, while the unwise ones will focus on their differences," said Li, citing a Chinese saying.