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China

Wen Jiabao pledges to fight inflation, corruption and wealth disparity

Reuters/Petar KujundzicPetar Kujundzic

Chinese Premier Wen Jaibao has vowed to clamp down on inflation and corruption and raise wages in a key speech at the annual opening of parliament Saturday.

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The speech is the most important of the year delivered by a Chinese politician - similar in status to the State of the Union address in the United States - and it addressed the downside of the country's breakneck economic expansion.

With labour shortages forcing employers to raise wages and perks in the country’s most industrialised regions, Wen told the National People's Congress that uneven economic development was a "serious problem".

He acknowledged that there was “great resentment” of growing economic disparity, corruption and other problems and promised that his government would do more to tackle them.

He also noted popular discontent over high consumer and housing prices, "significant problems concerning food safety and rampant corruption", and people being illegally kicked off their land to make way for unrestrained property development.

Wen pledged that China, the world's top emitter of greenhouse gases, would work harder to save energy and clean up the air as it revamps the economy over the next five years.

"We will effectively conserve resources and protect the environment. We will respond actively to climate change," he told his audience.

The country will seek to reduce carbon emissions per unit of gross domestic product by 17 per cent in the 2011-2015 period and go on to reduce carbon intensity by at least 40 per cent by 2020 from 2005 levels, Wen said.

China plans to slash energy consumption per unit of GDP by 16 per cent by 2015, and hopes to raise the percentage of non-fossil fuels in its energy mix by 11.4 per cent from 8.3 percent last year.
 

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