DALIAN, China--Chinese Premier Li Keqiang made a strong defense of his signature program aimed at bolstering the country's new economy as traditional drivers lose steam, saying the initiative has led to significant job creation.
The "mass entrepreneurship and innovation" program, put in place in 2014 and intended to encourage individuals and businesses to jump into technology-oriented industries has created millions of new jobs annually in the past few years, helping the nation keeping its jobless rate under 5%, Mr. Li said at the plenary session of the annual June meeting of the World Economic Forum, which started Tuesday.
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The Chinese government has given priority to employment in its pursuit of inclusive growth that can benefit the public overall, Mr. Li said, adding that the program had led to "unimaginable job growth."
His remarks come as concerns grow over the health of the world's second-largest economy. Burdened with high levels of debt and persistent industrial overcapacity, the country is attracting less foreign direct investment, experiencing continued capital outflows and recently had its sovereign rating downgraded by Moody's Investors Service. Many officials and economists within China also have been questioning whether the new-economy-oriented program led by Mr. Li could pick up the slack or whether it would lead to more risks, especially in the area of internet finance.
At the forum, Mr. Li said China has "sufficient capabilities" to manage the risks, pointing to the country's high savings rate and Chinese banks' capital buffers. He also urged foreign investors to be "bullish about China." He repeated his pledge that foreign businesses won't run into problems repatriating profits made in the country, and encouraged companies to reinvest funds in the country.
Mr. Li also vowed not to resort to stimulus measures to jump-start China's economy. Instead, he said, China will continue to focus on structural changes such as cutting debt levels and reducing overcapacity to put the economy on a stronger footing in the longer term.
The annual June meeting of the World Economic Forum, dubbed "summer Davos," is being held in Dalian, a seaport city in northeastern China whose booming economy and glittering infrastructure represents a contrast to the foundering manufacturing facilities dotting the region.
Liyan Qi contributed to this article.
Write to Lingling Wei at email@example.com
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
June 27, 2017 01:41 ET (05:41 GMT)