Chinese President Xi Jinping calls for renaissance

Photo: Xinhua

The new Chinese President, Xi Jinping, has said he will fight for "the great renaissance of the Chinese nation," in his first speech as head of state.

Closing the annual National People's Congress, he urged delegates to reject extravagance and fight corruption.

At a news conference later, new Premier Li Keqiang said sustainable economic growth would remain the top priority.

The comments come as the Communist government completed a once-in-a-decade leadership transition.

President Xi's address was a patriotic speech urging greater national unity.

Its nationalistic tone will reinforce the view that he will pursue a more assertive foreign policy during his decade in power, our correspondent says.

President Xi issued a warning to China's military, saying it should improve its ability to "win battles and... protect national sovereignty and security".

He also stressed that continued economic development was essential, urging the nation to achieve what he called "China's dream".

'Vested interests'

The same themes were taken up at a rare news conference by new premier Li Keqiang, who has taken over the the day-to-day running of the country, succeeding Wen Jiabao.

China's newly-elected Premier Li Keqiang (3rd R) waves as he is flanked by newly-elected vice premiers Ma Kai (R), Zhang Gaoli (3rd L), Wang Yang (2nd L) and Liu Yandong (2nd R) during a news conference after the closing session of the National People's Congress (NPC) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing March 17, 2013. Photo: Reuters

He addressed the growing inequality gap and public anger at corruption, promising to reform the central government, cut "extravagance" and shake-up "vested interests".

Spending on the government payroll, overseas trips and new offices would be cut while funding for social services would increase, he said.

"A clean government should start with oneself, "Mr Li asserted.

Li Keqiang was elected for a five-year term but, like his predecessor, would be expected to spend a decade in office.

On foreign policy, Mr Li stressed on the importance of further developing relations with the US, saying that "common interests far outweigh our differences".

He described as "groundless" US accusations that China was behind recent cyber-attacks on American government agencies and companies.

On Saturday, the People's Congress approved a number of new ministerial appointments, including Foreign Minister Wang Yi and Finance Minister Lou Jiwei.

The four vice-premiers are Zhang Gaoli, Liu Yandong, Wang Yang and Ma Kai - all veteran Communist Party officials.

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