Premier Li Keqiang endorses private entrepreneurs, promises further reforms

PUBLISHED : Monday, 04 November, 2013, 8:08pm
UPDATED : Monday, 04 November, 2013, 8:16pm

In a rare show of public support for the country’s burgeoning private enterprises, Premier Li Keqiang praised Jack Ma Yun, founder and chairman of the country’s largest internet-based e-commerce firms, and vowed that “extensive and deeper reforms” would be made.

“It is not only that the government trusts private entrepreneurs, it also relies on them,” Li was reported as saying during a conference held in Beijing, according to the official Xinhua news agency. The conference reportedly took place last Thursday but the details were not made public until Monday.

“We ought to place a high emphasis on an innovative economy … so China’s economy can progress on a steady and sustainable course,” he said.

The aim of the conference was to evaluate present economic trends and to map out an economic plan for next year, the third such plan since Li took office. Private entrepreneurs Ma and Li Shufu, head of automotive maker Geely Holding Group, were among the 10 speakers at the meeting.

In the meeting Ma said business transactions completed using his company’s services were expected to generate over 10 per cent of the nation’s entire retail sales. He also boasted that the nine million online retailers currently using his company’s services provided at least 10 million jobs, the report said.

Taobao, a consumer-to-consumer online shopping website under Alibaba, has gradually promoted November 11th over the past few years as a sales day when most of the shops offer discounted products.

“You have generated a shopping spree”, Li said.

Vice-premiers Zhang Gaoli, Liu Yandong and Ma Kai also took part, underlining the importance the government attached to the meeting.

Li also highlighted the importance of further reforms that China needs to undertake.

“[The process of] reform may be gradual, but it is determined,” Li said. “China’s reform has entered ‘deep water’, it will touch on vested interests … but the government must forge ahead without hesitation …”

Li’s remarks might help to support a possible future Alibaba IPO in Hong Kong. Ma’s plan to list Alibaba on the Hong Kong stock exchange failed after the Securities and Futures Commission found the company’s unique partnership structure unacceptable.

Ma has since expressed interest in a future potential HK$100 billion deal. “We didn’t do enough to make Hong Kong people understand what kind of company Alibaba is, nor have we done enough to understand Hong Kong,” he was previously quoted as saying.