BEIJING, Sept. 6 (Xinhua) -- The Chinese government has decided to strengthen weak links in crucial fields including poverty alleviation, infrastructure, post-disaster water conservancy control and development of new growth engines.
The decision, which is intended to achieve more balanced and effective development and provide driving force for the supply-side structural reform, was adopted Monday at a State Council executive meeting chaired by Premier Li Keqiang.
At the meeting, Premier Li heard a report by the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) on the country's efforts in improving key weak links as well as measures to be taken down the road.
"The key to expanding demands and creating a proper context for China's structural reform is to improve its own weak areas," Li said, "China is still a developing country with huge development gaps among regions and also between rural and urban areas. We need to work hard to expand effective investment and make stronger efforts in improving weak links."
Improving the country's weak links is one of the major tasks set for the country's 13th Five-Year Plan for national socioeconomic development (2016-2020), and was raised during the Central Economic Conference in Beijing last December.
Speaking at the meeting, Li pointed out that reducing excess capacity, lowering corporate cost and improving weak links for better livelihood of the people will be the government's core tasks in 2016, in the process of maintaining economic growth within a proper range. It also plays a indispensable role in China's structural reform.
"Currently we are still under pressure on maintaining stable economic growth and creating jobs, and our achievements in the first half of this year did not come easily," Li said.
China's economy grew by 6.7 percent in the first half of 2016, within the targeted range between 6.5 percent to 7 percent.
Yet the country still needs more efforts to improve the country's weak links such as infrastructure and poverty alleviation.
As decided at the Monday meeting, further measures will be taken in the following areas.
First, on poverty alleviation. Efforts will be made to lift 10 million people out of poverty by the end of 2016.
Second, hydro engineering and urban water logging prevention infrastructures will be better enhanced, especially in areas that were flooded this summer, and another 10 new flood prevention projects will be started this year.
Third, infrastructure building will step further, with a total of 800 billion yuan (about 120 billion U.S. dollars) to be invested in railway construction, and construction of over 2,000 kilometers of underground pipelines will commence this year. Public facilities for the elderly will also be improved.
Further support will also be offered in developing agriculture, technological and equipment upgrading as well as nurturing new economic driving forces.
The government is expected to play a leading role in strengthening these area of weakness, while more market access will be open to private investors. Areas such as civil airport operation, telecommunication, oil-gas exploration are to be open to private investors.
Li stressed that such efforts need to be implemented with clear focus on critical infrastructure projects as well as accelerating institutional reforms to create a good environment for improving weak links. Financing as well as ways to attract foreign investment will also be innovated.
The meeting urges all departments to come up with a clear time line.
"We need to better intensify both positive and negative incentives to generate enthusiasm from all departments," Li said, "Meanwhile, lawful rights of all market players must be protected, and harsher penalties are necessary for governments who fail their duties."