China’s Premier Li Qiang addressed an international audience at Boao Asia forum in Boao, Hainan on March 30, 2023.
Lintao Zhang | Getty Images News | Getty Images
BO’AO, China — Chinese Premier Li Qiang sought to rally Asian countries behind China in his first public address to an international audience as premier.
On Thursday, Li claimed that China had acted “responsibly” in its role as a big country, and generally contributed to world peace.
“Peace is the prerequisite for development,” Li said in Mandarin translated by CNBC.
His speech of about 25 minutes at the Boao Forum for Asia did not delve into China’s heightened tensions with the U.S.
The annual meeting, hosted by China, is seen by some as the region’s answer to the World Economic Forum’s gathering of global leaders every year in Davos, Switzerland.
Asia and the world are at the “crossroads” of history, Li said, while portraying China as a center of stability.
He referenced China’s ruling Communist Party’s congressional meeting in the fall, and its goal of “national rejuvenation” claiming the country’s “great contributions” to the world were “rapid economic growth” and “social stability.”
Li, who was confirmed as premier in March, said China’s development going forward would bring “strong momentum to the economic growth of Asia.”
China’s domestic economy
On China’s domestic economic outlook, Li said the situation in March would be better than in the first two months of the year.
China reported economic figures for January and February that showed a modest recovery from last year’s Covid impact.
In January, the country relaxed its border controls after nearly three years of strict Covid-zero restrictions.
The new premier said Thursday that China will work to expand its domestic market and improve the business environment. He reiterated a government pledge to firmly prevent financial systemic risks.
Li met with International Monetary Fund Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva during the forum, according to state media.
His speech comes as China went on a charm offensive this month to retain and attract investment from foreign businesses.
Meetings with Apple, ASML
Notably, Apple CEO Tim Cook visited Beijing. State announcement said he was among several executives who met with Li on Monday at the close of a government-organized conference, the China Development Forum.
Cook also met with Zheng Shanjie, head of the National Development and Reform Commission, China’s economic planning agency.
China “hopes Apple will continue to actively bear a company’s social responsibilities, strengthen protection of data and personal information,” the commission’s readout of the meeting said in Chinese, according to a CNBC translation.
Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Separately, China’s Ministry of Commerce announced that its minister Wang Wentao met Tuesday with ASML President and CEO Peter Wennink.
The Dutch company is one of the world’s most critical semiconductor firms. The U.S. is trying to stop ASML from exporting advanced chip technology to China in a bid to maintain U.S. advantage in key technology.
Correction: This article has been updated to accurately reflect that that Chinese Premier Li Qiang spoke on Thursday.