Via China Daily

Staff members prepare for live online sales at a department store in Shanghai. After doing a commendable job of prevention and control of COVID-19, the city has started to promote businesses. [Photo/Xinhua]

Premier Li Keqiang has called for resolute efforts to expand domestic demand with multiple measures to promote the rebound of consumer spending and spur the growth of online retail sales to stabilize China’s economic fundamentals and restore growth.

Speaking at a symposium with heads of six provincial governments via video link on Thursday, Li also underlined the importance of expanding effective investment and making good use of special bonds issued by local governments while driving up private investment.

He said that China’s efforts to contain the COVID-19 pandemic have secured key outcomes, with its social and economic order seeing a quickened restoration progress-a hard-won result.

“The outbreak has brought about an unprecedented shock to the Chinese economy. Under such circumstances, we need to stand on a firm footing and stabilize the fundamentals. Only in this way can we buy the time we need to get through the difficulties and win the future for the Chinese economy,” he said.

The pandemic pushed China’s economy into its first contraction in decades in the first quarter, with the gross domestic product shrinking 6.8 percent from a year ago.

However, the rebound in March of major economic indicators, including retail sales and factory output, indicated that the nation’s recovery has gained a firmer footing.

The country must fully size up the difficulties going forward and face its challenges head on, Li said.

It is important to follow the general principle of pursuing progress while ensuring stability, adhere to the new development philosophy and make appropriate adjustments to its macro policy regulations with normalized containment measures in place, he said.

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He reiterated the need to stabilize the job market, ensure the well-being of the public, protect market entities, guarantee the security of food and energy, stabilize industry and supply chains and ensure the normal operations at the primary level in pursuing high-quality development.

To drive the recovery of the economy and shore up the job market, China must protect its vast number of market players, Li said.

He urged local authorities to carry out and fine tune the various aid policies and help businesses, especially smaller ones and those of the self-employed, to survive the pandemic.

The reopening of businesses must be accelerated to prevent the loss of jobs, he said, adding that more support in the job market must be extended to key groups such as college graduates, migrant workers and military veterans.

Li highlighted the role of reform and opening-up and transforming economic growth in ways to sustain growth, saying that stabilizing industry and supply chains is now a priority in the foreign trade sector.

The country must roll out more concrete steps to improve the business environment, make proactive efforts to develop advanced manufacturing and emerging sectors and foster new growth engines, he said.

The premier also underscored that the government will expand its security network for the unemployed by a large margin to ensure the public’s well-being.