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Zhu Rongji on the Record

The Road to Reform 1991–1997

translated by June Mei. foreword by Henry A. Kissinger and Helmut Schmidt. Rongji Zhu

Publication Year: 2013

China's explosive transformation from a planned economy to a more market-oriented one over the past three decades owes much to the charismatic reformer Zhu Rongji. His pragmatism and strong work ethic have been key forces in China's drive to greater modernization and global stature. He served as the mayor and party chief in Shanghai from 1987 to 1991, as vice premier of China from 1991 to 1998, and then as premier until 2003. This monumental collection brings together, for the first time in English, over one hundred important speeches, articles, letters, and instructions written during his term as vice premier, when he had major responsibility for fulfilling Deng Xiaoping's vision and setting China on a new and fruitful course.

During this time, Zhu embarked on a plan to reduce the size of government and reform the heavily indebted banking system and state-owned enterprises as well as the housing and health care systems. His sweeping efforts ranged from lobbying for the establishment of stock exchanges to revitalizing agriculture through the introduction of a modern grain market. The ramifications of these reforms are still being felt throughout China and the globe, and Zhu Rongji on the Record provides a real-time look at these plans as they were being formulated during the 1990s.

These pages also reflect the forthright personality that gained great popularity with the Chinese public. Zhu vows to speak the truth and avoid "empty talk," as he tells his compatriots. "We must tackle [reform] with both hands, and both hands must be strong." To this end, he provides lists of "musts" and "mustn'ts" that will ensure a "soft landing" during China's transition and calls for swift and resolute action, both in reform and in fighting corruption.

In addition to revealing the evolution of Zhu's thinking and demonstrating how he helped transform the world's most populous nation, this book provides insight into the course of China's economic reform from the 1990s through the first part of the twenty-first century —a period of time that is key to the global order today.

Publication of this English edition of Zhu Rongji on the Record will be an important milestone in Sino-U.S. cultural exchange and a significant contribution to greater understanding between the world's two largest economic powers.

Published by: Brookings Institution Press

Front Cover

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p. C-C

Jacket Flaps, Title Page, Copyright

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pp. i-iv


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pp. v-viii

Publication Note

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pp. ix-x

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Foreword Henry A. Kissinger

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pp. xi-xii

It is commonplace to refer to China’s enormous strides of the past decades as an “economic miracle.” Yet in essence a miracle is an event beyond human performance or comprehension. China’s reform and development was a policy course adopted by top officials and carried out through the efforts and vitality of the Chinese people. Even if the feats this course involved could not easily be...

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Foreword Helmut Schmidt

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pp. xiii-xvi

During the late 1960s I had an inkling that China was regaining its status as a world power. However, since Germany and China had no diplomatic ties, I traveled to East Asia hoping to look at China from the perspective of the Japanese, the South Koreans, the Thai people, and the Australians. In 1972, as one outcome of these travels, Germany and China established diplomatic relations...

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Note from The Brookings Institution

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pp. xvii-xx

I met Zhu Rongji for the first time in the mid-1990s when as Vice Premier he was responsible, in addition to many other pressing matters, for the first overseas listings of China’s state-owned enterprises (SOEs). I was Chairman of Goldman Sachs Asia at the time and had relatively frequent contact with Vice Premier Zhu and Wang Qishan, who was then Governor of China Construction...

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Clearing Up Triangular Debt Must Start with the Source—Fixed-Asset Investments

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pp. 1-16

This conference has several distinctive features. First, the leadership attaches great importance to it, and the State Council is very supportive of the clearing up of triangular debt. The State Council is very determined and has allocated RMB 35 billion to support the clearing up. Second, this conference isn’t treating the clearing up of arrears solely as a fiscal settlement or a financial issue. Rather, it...

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Comments on the Economic Development of Western China

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pp. 17-19

How to speed up the economic development of Western China is indeed a “big question,” and this is also the question raised by Deng Xiaoping regarding “common prosperity.” “Interviews” presents some good ideas, which are worth further consideration and study. My general impressions are:...

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Work Hard to Develop the Shipbuilding Industry

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pp. 20-24

After listening to your briefing, I see that there have been great developments in shipbuilding during the past decade, and the industry has already become oriented toward the international market. The growth of shipbuilding over these 10 years is in fact a product of reform and opening up and also a visible sign of the success of reform and opening up. In the past, we would not even have dared to think of exporting ships, but now shipbuilding is proving to be doing quite...

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On-Time Performance Is at the Heart of Civil Aviation Service Quality

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pp. 25-29

Since the Third Plenary Session of the 11th Party Congress, civil aviation has achieved a great deal and developed very rapidly. Between 1985 and 1990, passenger traffic, freight shipments, and total freight volume have all basically doubled. But in the current situation, the growth of civil aviation still cannot keep up with society’s needs, and it should develop greatly in the future. It is...

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Speed Up Technical Improvements and Do a Good Job at Large and Medium SOEs

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pp. 30-43

We’ve invited you all to this meeting today mainly to consider how to implement the spirit of the recently convened working meeting of the Party Central Committee, how to run large and medium state-owned enterprises (SOEs) well, and particularly how to do a good job of making technical improvements in enterprises. I’d like to discuss two thoughts along these lines....

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The Key to Controlling Redundant Construction Lies with the Banks

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pp. 44-47

Today everyone is trying to find out how our economic efforts can get on track in restructuring and improving results. It isn’t that easy to truly get on track. The current economic situation is good, but there are worrisome problems. The burden on enterprises is very heavy. Inventories exceed normal levels by RMB 70 billion to 80 billion, on which the enterprises have to pay the banks...

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Work Hard on the Internal Restructuring of Industries

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pp. 48-52

In accordance with the spirit of the Central Committee’s work meeting, the key to large and medium SOE s doing well is to focus on structural adjustment. Unless we adjust the structure, enterprises can’t be revitalized. I’m not talking about the structure of the entire national economy. We should recognize that our reforms and rectification have yielded great results—in particular, the...

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On Comprehensively and Correctly Understanding the Spirit of Deng Xiaoping's Talks in Southern China

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pp. 53-68

I’m here today as a member of the Shanghai delegation. I served as Mayor of Shanghai for over three years and attended five meetings of the National People’s Congress. I see all of you every year, and while I can’t say that I know everyone, I do recognize 90% of you. I’m very pleased to see that all of you here today, particularly some of our older comrades, are in very good health. Yesterday, Gongqi2 asked me to make some remarks. He wanted me to speak at length,...

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On Being a Scholar and Being a Person

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p. 69-69

Forty-odd years ago, Professor Zhang Mingtao, Chairman of the Department of Electrical Engineering at my alma mater, said to us at a meeting:
Now that you’ve come to Tsinghua, you should learn how to be a scholar, but even more you should learn how to be a person. A youth should first learn to be a person, and then learn to be a scholar. If you’re not a good...

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Quality Is the Lifeblood of Enterprises

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pp. 70-82

This national conference on quality is a very important aspect of our focus on economic work. We started off last year with clearing triangular debt—if this problem isn’t resolved, it will be hard for many enterprises to operate normally. To clear up triangular debt, we had to focus on limiting production, shrinking inventories, and selling goods. Otherwise, the burden on enterprises would be...

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Raising Labor Productivity Is the Key to Turning Around Losses and Improving Efficiency in the Coal Sector

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pp. 83-91

The growth of the coal industry in Shanxi is critical to moving the national economy to a new level. Through this study tour, I’ve gained a profound sense of the very important place Shanxi coal occupies in the growth of the national economy. Shanxi produces 290 million tons of coal annually, of which 179 million tons is shipped out via railway and 27 million tons via highways....

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Speech at a Symposium on Stock Market Pilot Programs in Some Provinces and Cities

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pp. 92-101

Since the publication of Deng Xiaoping’s important talks during his southern inspection trip, the momentum for reform and opening up has been booming across the country. Deng Xiaoping pointed out: “Are securities and the stock market good or bad? Do they entail any dangers? Are they peculiar to capitalism? Can socialism make use of them? We allow people to reserve their...

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Guangdong's Practice Demonstrates the Success of the Policy of Reform and Opening Up

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pp. 102-108

Guangdong has developed quite quickly these past few years, and it’s achieved a great deal in reform and opening up. After this on-site visit, I sense even more deeply how much it has developed and changed. I’d like to discuss three thoughts and a hope here....

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Some Comments on the Current Economic Situation and Macroeconomic Controls

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pp. 109-122

The 14th National Party Congress has summed up its great accomplishments in resolutely carrying out the Party’s basic line since the 3rd Plenary Session of the Party’s 11th Central Committee. It has used Deng Xiaoping’s theory of building socialism with Chinese characteristics to align the Party’s overall thinking and has formulated policies and made plans for speeding up reform and...

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Speed Up Railroad Construction and the Pace of Reform

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pp. 123-130

First of all, we should fully affirm the achievements of the work of the railway people. Last year, under extremely difficult circumstances, when railway facilities were very inadequate for the rapid growth of the national economy, railroad workers pushed themselves very hard and used every means at their disposal to reach and exceed the scheduled shipping targets. Although our railroad...

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Implement Genuine Separation of Government and Enterprises

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pp. 131-132

It appears that the problems reflected in this article, which consists of excerpts of speeches by factory directors and managers at a symposium, are somewhat prevalent. The “Regulations”2 were issued over half a year ago, yet these things are still happening among us, showing how hard it is to implement the “Regulations.” In the course of reform and transformation of functions at government...

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Thirteen Measures for Strengthening Macroeconomic Controls

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pp. 133-143

In accordance with the decision made at the Premier’s work conference, a study team headed by 7 ministers spent a month conducting investigations in 14 provinces and municipalities. Upon their return, the State Planning Commission took the lead in summarizing and integrating (the reports) and made recommendations on which measures should be taken now. The results of this...

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"Three Ground Rules" for Financial Work

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pp. 144-154

The purpose of this national conference on financial work is to unify our thinking, correct our way of thinking, and push the financial reforms forward. It is thus infused with the spirit of criticism and self-criticism. On the first day of the conference, Zhou Zhengqing2 presented a work report on behalf of the Party committee of the head office of the People’s Bank. During the conference, I participated in two half-day discussions with branch presidents, and...

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Rectify the Fiscal and Tax Order, Step Up Fiscal and Tax Reforms

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pp. 155-170

Not long ago, the State Council convened a national conference on financial work. Its main themes could be summed up in four phrases: “rectify the financial order, stiffen financial discipline, promote financial reforms, and strengthen macroeconomic controls.” In accordance with Jiang Zemin’s directive, the strengthening of macroeconomic controls should start with rectification of...

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Eight Measures for Solving the Shortage of Funds

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pp. 171-176

The current financing difficulties that have appeared in these provinces are due to a variety of reasons, one important reason being chaos in the financial system. If we don’t fundamentally change this present condition, we won’t be able to solve the problems even if we inject billions. The deep reason for the financing difficulties is that the scale of investment is too large: there...

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Tax Streaming Will Promote Guangdong's Development

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pp. 177-188

Having been entrusted to do so by Jiang Zemin and Li Peng, this time I’ve come to Guangdong with Li Tieying2 and over 60 comrades from the relevant departments of the State Council to convey, introduce, and explain the overall plan of the Party Central Committee and State Council for seizing the moment and speeding up reforms of the fiscal and tax systems. You...

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Letter to Jiang Zemin, Li Peng, and the Standing Committee of the Politburo on Implementation of the Tax-Streaming System

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pp. 189-193

As entrusted by you, Li Tieying and I brought a group of over 60 people from 14 units of the State Council to visit Hainan and Guangdong from September 9 to 16. There we briefed the leading members of those two provinces on the overall concepts of the reforms of the fiscal, financial, foreign trade, and stateowned asset management systems. Through detailed reconciliations of accounts...

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Establish Environmental Awareness among All the People

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pp. 194-197

I have three thoughts on preventing industrial pollution.
—First, the purpose of this work is to protect the environment, to protect nature, to protect humanity, and to create a good life for our descendants. It is a very glorious and very difficult endeavor.
—Second, this work has very strong technical and economic aspects and is closely linked to the work of legal institutions....

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Summation Speech at the 1993 National Conference on Economic Work

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pp. 198-217

This national conference on economic work has already met for three days. We have all unanimously supported the “Decision of the Party Central Committee on Certain Questions Regarding the Establishment of a Socialist Market Economy” (the “Decision”) adopted at the 3rd Plenary Session of the 14th Central Committee of the Party and accepted the report made by Li...

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Stabilize Grain and Oil Prices and Steady the Market Supply

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pp. 218-231

Today, the State Council has convened an emergency meeting to make arrangements to stabilize grain and oil prices as well as market supply. Why must we hold this emergency meeting? Because there are several matters that require urgent attention....

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A Conversation with U.S. Secretary of the Teasury Lloyd Bentsen

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pp. 232-239

ZRJ: Mr. Bentsen, I’m delighted to meet with you today, and we welcome you to China. You already met with our Premier yesterday. Today I’m meeting with you in my capacity as the Vice Premier in charge of financial and economic affairs, and this has special significance....

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Revenues from Land Sales Should First Be Used to Relocate Displaced Households

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p. 240-240

Urban demolition should be carried out under a plan, in stages, and according to capacities. Right now some cities are disregarding consequences, selling large amounts of land, and carrying out large-scale demolitions. They don’t care about the people displaced by the demolitions, and if this continues, it will affect social stability. A notice should be jointly issued by the departments concerned...

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Taking a Critical Step Forward in Financial Reforms

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pp. 241-255

Generally speaking, there’s no comparison between the situation regarding macroeconomic controls in the first half of this year and last year. It’s much better than it was last year. Think back to the situation last year—it was “the wind before the storm” and couldn’t go on any longer....

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Establish a Social Security System with Chinese Characteristics

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pp. 256-258

The issue of reforming the social security system is extremely important. The Party Central Committee and the State Council have affirmed that the focus of next year’s reforms will be [establishing] a modern enterprise system—this is fundamental. However, SOE reform must be supported by a social security system. Without such a system, we can’t speak of enterprise reform. Therefore we...

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A Conversation with Alan Greenspan, Chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve Board

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pp. 259-266

ZRJ: I’ve long wanted to meet you and have often hoped you would come. Now I’m very delighted to meet you. I had hoped to meet you in Madrid.2 Of course there wasn’t time in Madrid to discuss any issues. I had only wanted to invite you to a Chinese meal, but you returned home early. We made extensive preparations for your visit. I know you met today with President Jiang Zemin, and...

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Strengthen Management of the State's Forex Reserves and Foreign Debt

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pp. 267-271

Forex reserves have increased greatly this year and have now reached US$50 billion. This is a manifestation of the good economic situation, and also a major achievement of this year’s reforms....

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A Letter to Central Government Leaders on the Report by the National People's Congress on Implementation of the Agricultural Law

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pp. 272-273

The problems in implementing our grain purchase policy described in this report deserve our attention and solutions, but there are some factual inaccuracies. For instance, it says that policies “changed three times in half a year.” Thus far, despite smaller harvests, we’ve already purchased almost 150 billion jin2 of grain, which is more than last year and which is equal to 80% of the planned...

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A Conversation with Japanese Finance Minister Takemura Masayoshi

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pp. 274-279

Takemura: I’m extremely honored that our delegation is able to meet with you immediately upon arrival in Beijing.

ZRJ : I visited Japan last year and regretted not having met with a statesman as famous as you. Today, I’m delighted to meet with you in Beijing, and as a colleague in charge of fiscal and financial work, I’m delighted to make your...

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On Current Monetary Policy

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pp. 280-282

To [Zhou] Zhengqing, [Dai] Xianglong, and members of the leading Party group of the People’s Bank:

Improving the quality of loans is an important task, and I’m also in favor of Xianglong’s work plan for this task. However, in light of the very daunting current situation with regard to the excessive injection of base money and overly...

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On Economic Work in Beijing

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pp. 283-285

Beijing sought me out to discuss economic work. On June 27 I had a very smallscale meeting and listened to reports by Wei Jianxing,2 Li Qiyan,3 and Zhang Baifa.4 Overall, Beijing’s economy is quite stable and has no major problems. The municipal government drew up a list of things for which they want money. Because the circumstances were not explained very clearly, I asked them to...

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A Memorable Two Years as Governor of the Central Bank

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pp. 286-291

This advanced seminar on financial law organized by the People’s Bank has been very well run and is very timely. You’ve discussed many excellent ideas, which is very good for helping us to align our thinking within the entire banking system. I’ve been Governor of the People’s Bank for two years, and all you bank presidents here have been colleagues working with me during this period....

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Thoughts on How Xinjiang Should Develop Its Economy

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pp. 292-301

I haven’t often come to Xinjiang—I visited Turpan and Kashgar in 1987. Since starting work at the State Council, I’ve been to Xinjiang once, in 1993, and that was primarily to northern Xinjiang. This time I’ve come mainly to have a look at southern Xinjiang....

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Congratulations to Mr. Chen Daisun on His 95th Birthday

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pp. 302-304

Dear Mr. Chen Daisun:

I had planned to visit you tomorrow to offer my congratulations on the happy occasion of your 95th birthday, but because I must leave Beijing today on business, I will be unable to see you, to my great regret....

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Letters and Petitions Are an Important Channel for Gaining a Sense of the People

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pp. 305-308

It is part of our Party’s fine tradition and work style to care about letters and petitions and to take them seriously. The older generation of proletarian revolutionaries were role models for us in taking these seriously. The Party’s third generation of central collective leadership with Jiang Zemin at its core attaches great importance to letters and petitions and has issued a series of important...

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Take Effective Measures to Lift Impoverished Areas Out of Poverty

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pp. 309-314

This is my third visit to Guangxi since I started working at the State Council. In 1993 I came on a study visit, last year I came for disaster relief, and this year I’m here to visit impoverished families. I really feel that despite suffering from major natural disasters, Guangxi has been developing very quickly, and changes have taken place in all areas. Of course Guangxi still has serious difficulties,...

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Selling Off Small SOEs Is Not a "Miracle Cure"

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pp. 315-321

I’ve come to the city of Zhu this time to study its experiences in improving small SOE s. Last December 20, at a national conference on systemic reform convened by the State Commission on Restructuring the Economic System, I was at a discussion session with conference attendees, and the commission spoke highly of your experiences. At the time I said I would come to personally take a look. Now...

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Adjust and Refine Processing Trade Policy

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pp. 322-328

The pilot program for the processing trade’s security deposit ledgers2 started last November and has already been in operation for half a year. According to your summary of the circumstances, the pilot has achieved the results we anticipated and has been successful. It shows that the security deposit ledger system has already been accepted by many foreign businessmen, apparently there...

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Do a Good Job of Opening Up the Financial and Insurance Market to the Outside

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pp. 329-333

The establishment and refinement of a social insurance system is a necessary condition for the establishment of a socialist market economy, and commercial insurance is an important component of its social security system. You have a tremendous future, because China has almost 1.3 billion people. It is the largest insurance market in the world, and you can play a great role on this stage....

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On Enterprise Bankruptcy and Capital Restructuring

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pp. 334-341

Enabling enterprise bankruptcy is a very important measure for promoting the transformation of operational mechanisms at SOEs and for developing a socialist market economy. At the same time, it is an important measure for ensuring that state-owned assets, particularly bank assets, are not continually being lost....

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Some Issues in Macroeconomic and Tax Work

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pp. 342-365

I read the reports from Liu Zhongli2 and Xiang Huaicheng3 ahead of time, and approve of them both. I originally didn’t have to come to this conference. The State Council has a rule that when a ministry holds working conferences, the vice premier (overseeing the ministry) doesn’t have to attend. But you invited me to come, so I came. Why? Because I wanted to see all of you, and to share a...

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Forcefully Promote Enterprise Reforms and Actively Implement Reemployment Projects

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pp. 366-374

It is inevitable that we will encounter some difficulties in the course of reforming SOEs. The current difficulties are primarily manifested in the lower profits at SOEs as a whole, in the considerable number of loss-making SOEs, and in the inability of some to even pay wages. This is a latent factor for social instability and demands close attention. We must both recognize the seriousness of...

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What to Do after a Bumper Harvest

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pp. 375-381

The focus of this central conference on rural work is to study the issue of what to do after a bumper harvest. This will be very important for determining how our agricultural production can achieve progress amid stability this year, and how we can promote sustained and steady growth of the entire national economy. I’d like to discuss some thoughts on several of the specific...

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On Reform of the Housing System

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pp. 382-390

Housing is a major issue that affects the personal interests of the broad masses, and the Party Central Committee and State Council take housing reform very seriously. To solve the housing problem of our urban residents, we must first clarify the direction of housing reform. In recent years, all regions and departments have done a great deal of work to deepen their housing reforms....

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A Conversation with Alan Greenspan, Chairman of the U.S. Federal Reserve

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pp. 391-396

ZRJ : I’m delighted that you’re visiting China again. Our central bank has an excellent cooperative relationship with the Federal Reserve. I remember clearly my first meeting with Mr. [Wayne] Angell2 in 1993. I then met Mr. [William] McDonough3 twice, after which I invited you to China in 1994. At that time China’s economy was encountering difficulties, and the inflation rate had...

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Having a Lot of Cotton Is a Joyous Burden

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pp. 397-405

This national conference on cotton convened by the State Council has been a very good conference. It has fully affirmed the achievements of our work on cotton and also clearly analyzed existing problems and proposed solutions for them. The State Council attaches great importance to the various problems that currently exist in cotton and regards them as difficulties that have emerged at a...

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Don't Start a Fad When Implementing a Shareholding System

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pp. 406-409

The 7th Plenary Session of the 14th Central Committee of the Party that ended yesterday approved the report of the 14th Central Committee to the 15th National Party Congress and the “Revised Constitution of the Communist Party of China.” These two important documents highlighted Deng Xiaoping’s theories and at the same time contained new theoretical developments, particularly...

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Basic Medical Insurance Should Be Low in Level but Broad in Coverage

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pp. 410-417

Reforming the medical insurance system is quite difficult, even more difficult than [reforming] pension insurance and as a result, there are still many problems. Intensive study indicates that we must draw up a reform plan for nationally unified employee medical insurance that is practical and feasible. Now, in response to the questions you’ve raised, I’d like to discuss some tentative...

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Deepen Financial Reforms and Guard Against Financial Risks

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pp. 418-436

The “Notice of the Party Central Committee and the State Council on Deepening Financial Reforms, Rectifying the Financial Order and Preventing Financial Risk” (the “Notice”) that we are discussing at this conference fully exemplifies the spirit of the 15th National Party Congress and is an extremely important document. Now, in the spirit of the “Notice” and the discussions during the conference, I will discuss a few thoughts....

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Truly Learn the Lessons of the Asian Financial Crisis

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pp. 437-444

In the past few months, a serious financial crisis has occurred in Southeast Asia, and we should learn lessons from it. Although we’ve been fortunate to escape this storm, we cannot afford to rest easy, because the crisis has not yet passed. However, I don’t think the problem is too great, and it still isn’t easy to rock our financial system. We were spared mainly because of China’s economic...


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pp. 445-460

Back Cover

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p. BC-BC

E-ISBN-13: 9780815725374
E-ISBN-10: 081572537X
Print-ISBN-13: 9780815725190

Page Count: 460
Publication Year: 2013