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Chinese premier vows `zero tolerance` for corruption
MARCH 14, 2014 00:40  
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said Thursday that Beijing will have "zero tolerance" for corruption. There are mixed reactions to the remarks, as some observers say he hinted at how Beijing will deal with Zhou Yongkang, former Chinese security chief, while some others view the remark as a mere mention of a general principle.

"Corruption is a natural enemy of the people`s government," he said at a press conference, which was held after an annual session of the China`s 12th National People`s Congress in Beijing on Thursday. "Everybody is equal before the law regardless of his status," he said, vowing to "sternly investigate and punish those who violate the party`s discipline and state laws."

Stressing the control of power and money with legal thinking and institution, the premier said that Beijing will specify boundaries of power to prevent abuse of authority.

Following Li`s remarks on "zero tolerance" for corruption, some Chinese media speculated that Zhou will face indictment this week at the earliest. Hong Kong newspaper Ming Pao reported Thursday that a brother-in-law of Zhou`s secretary committed suicide on the previous day at a securities company he worked for.

However, Hong Kong`s South China Morning Post reported that Beijing`s request that reporters at Li`s news conference not to ask questions about Zhou has yet to decide what to do with him. "Zero tolerance" was first mentioned by Chinese President Xi Jinping at a party committee meeting in January. Considering this, Li`s latest remarks were nothing but a statement of a general principle. Some in Beijing`s political circles speculated there is a possibility that Li will directly mention Zhou, just as former Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao two years ago dealt a direct blow to former Chongqing Party Secretary Bo Xilai at a news conference at the close of an annual session of the National People`s Congress.

Regarding concern`s over a hard landing of the Chinese economy, Li expressed confidence that Beijing overcome challenges. "We need to face up to the difficulties and challenges and make the most of the favorable conditions," Li said. "Only a sharpened ax can cut through firewood."

In his remarks on reforms, Li made apparent reference to the best-selling book, "Who Moved My Cheese?", and said, "In the course of reform, the vested interests will be shaken, and some people`s cheese will be moved." He then stressed that the government should "bravely move ahead without looking back to expand people`s interest."

Asked about the U.S.-China relations, he called for mutual respect. "Wise people seek common interests; unwise ones focus on differences," he said.

Regarding measures to deal with smog, the Chinese premier vowed to take action. "To tackle smog takes time, but we cannot just sit and wait for wind and rain to drive smog away," he noted. Major Chinese cities suffer from smog that is cleared only by wind or rain for no more than a couple of days.

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