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Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, right, listens to Singapore's Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong during a meeting last month.

Chinese Premier Says Foreign Companies To Get ‘Equal Treatment’

By Scott Neuman NPR

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang has pledged to treat foreign multinational companies on a par with the country’s own state-owned enterprises, but he warned that an economic rebound remains fragile.

Li, speaking at a business forum in the northeastern city of Dalian on Wednesday, cautioned that the global economic outlook was a “complex situation” and outlined a series of steps designed to keep the country on a moderate but sustainable growth path.

“China will continue to encourage foreign companies to invest and do business in China, and ensure that all companies have equal access … and equal treatment,” he said.

Li acknowledged that China is at “a critical stage of restructuring and updating its economy” and that it can sustain growth only by transforming its model, including a move toward converting the currency, the yuan.

China’s phenomenal growth rates have flattened, partly as a function of a dampening globally, but partly because, as we reported last month, China is at a stage of economic growth that every fast-growing country eventually reaches.

As The Wall Street Journal notes, China “is in the midst of putting together a reform plan that’s aimed at avoiding what happened to countries like Brazil and Mexico — one-time growth champions whose economies slowed before they made it to the ranks of wealthy nations.”

Li, who took office this year, has been pushing for getting away from a credit-, investment- and export-driven economy and moving toward one fueled more by domestic consumption.

In Dalian, he said slower growth rates were an acceptable price to pay to achieve reform.

Li said Beijing was on target for the 7.5 percent growth it aimed for this year, which is substantially slower than the 10 percent annual growth rates it has posted in the past.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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