Premier Li: More attention on senior services, sufficient child care

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang |AP

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang waves as he arrives for a press conference held after the closing session of China's National People's Congress (NPC) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Friday, March 15, 2019.

The Chinese government has additional monetary policy measures that it can take to support economic growth this year, and will even cut "its own flesh" to help finance large-scale tax cuts, Premier Li Keqiang said on Friday. However, he added that boosting lending or government spending might "lead to future problems".

China now has 250 million people above 60 years and 170 million above 65 years, Li said during his annual press conference here. Economic growth a year ago fell to a three-decade low of 6.6 percent.

He said that maintaining growth would ensure that employment remains stable.

The central bank has cut banks' reserve requirement ratios (RRR) five times in the past year, with a two-stage RRR cut in January releasing a total of 1.5 trillion yuan ($A315.82 billion) into the financial system.

"China's economy will remain an important anchor of stability for the global economy", Li said.

Policymakers huddled in Beijing have talked up plans to support the economy, announcing billions of U.S. dollars in tax cuts, fee reductions and financing support for small businesses.

"In terms of policy support - we may provide public rental housing units to private actors to provide services such as mobility, daycare, etc. Tax breaks may be provided to these service providers in terms of expenses on water, electricity and natural gas", he said.

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China's normally steady unemployment rate rose to 5.3 percent last month, from 4.9 percent in December past year.

The US and China, the world's two largest economies, are locked in a trade war since President Donald Trump imposed heavy tariffs on imported steel and aluminium items from China in March past year.

"For some time, China-US trade frictions have been given more prominence, but China-US negotiations have never stopped", Li said.

A summit to seal a trade deal between U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping will not happen at the end of March as previously discussed, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Thursday.

In response, China, the world's second largest economy after the United States, imposed tit-for-tat tariffs on Dollars 110 billion of American goods.

"I believe that this is also the expectation of the world", Li said.

The law will offer better legal support to the protection and attraction of foreign investment, as well as regulate government behaviours, Li said. The talks and tensions stretch far beyond trade and tariffs.

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