China pledges 'painful' cutting of state's role
China's new premier promised a smaller role for the state in the world's second biggest economy, pledging to give up control in a "painful" but necessary effort to support growth.
Li Keqiang said he would open the economy to market forces and strip power from the state in an effort to help China grow by 7.5pc a year until 2020.
"It's about cutting power, it's a self-imposed revolution," he said. "It will be very painful and even feel like cutting one's wrist."
Mr Li on Friday replaced Wen Jiabao as the man in charge of the running the superpower day-to-day for the next decade.
Speaking in Beijing at his first briefing in the role, Mr Li made few specific pledges beyond a commitment to cut red tape by a third on some 1,700 processes needing government approval. That would reduce opportunities for corruption, he said.
China's gross domestic product last year expanded by 7.8pc, its slowest growth in 13 years. There are worries that its economic momentum will falter as officials try to cool the Chinese property market and work to stop a credit bubble.
Hitting a 7.5pc growth target would be difficult, Mr Li said.
"We need to maintain steady economic growth, prevent inflation and control latent risks," he said.