BEIJING — China’s premier said on Tuesday that his government would respond to an economic slowdown by cutting taxes, easing burdens on the private sector and giving markets a bigger role — diluting the heavily pro-state pronouncements and policies that critics have warned were scaring investors.
北京——中国总理周二表示,政府将通过减税、减轻民营部门负担,以及让市场起更大作用等做法来应对经济放缓。这淡化了大量亲政府的宣告和政策——批评人士警告它们令投资者怯步。
Calling 2019 a “crucial year” for China’s economy, Premier Li Keqiang, the second-ranking official in China after President Xi Jinping, laid out measures long supported by private businesses. Mr. Li’s annual report to the national legislature revived rhetoric about market solutions after the government faced growing criticism for favoring government initiatives and state-owned companies, squeezing out private enterprise.
国务院总理李克强是中国的二号人物,地位仅次于国家主席习近平。他把2019年称为中国经济的“关键之年”,提出的是民营企业长期以来一直支持的措施。在向全国人大提交的年度政府工作报告中,李克强重提了市场解决方案,之前,中国政府因偏袒政府方案和国有企业、排挤民营企业而受到越来越多的批评。
“We will keep using market-oriented reforming thinking,” Mr. Li said in his report. “The government must act with resolve to hand matters it shouldn’t manage over to the market.”
“坚持以市场化改革的思路,”李克强在报告中说。“政府要坚决把不该管的事项交给市场。”
But the specifics of his speech to the legislature did not go as far as domestic or foreign critics would have liked. And this year’s session of China’s Communist Party-controlled legislature, the National People’s Congress, underscored how much economic anxieties have come to dominate policy a year after Mr. Xi appeared politically indomitable.
但是,李克强在向全国人大做的报告中,并没有给出国内外批评人士希望看到的具体内容。在习近平似乎建立了不可动摇的政治地位一年之后,中国共产党控制的立法机构全国人民代表大会今年的会议突显出,经济焦虑在多大程度上已经成为了主导政策的主要因素。
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The nearly 3,000 congress delegates meet once a year to loyally approve legislation, reports and budgets. Last year, Mr. Xi, who is also the party leader, used the meeting to entrench his power, pushing through changes to the Constitution that abolished a term limit on the presidency. That meeting also approved a broad restructuring of the government and established a new anticorruption agency.
近3000名人大代表每年开一次全体会议,忠实地批准立法、报告和预算。去年,同时担任中共领导人的习近平利用人大会议,通过推动修改宪法,废除了对国家主席任期的限制,巩固了自己的权力。去年的人大还批准了对政府的全面重组,并成立了一个新的反腐机构。
But the triumphant glow of Mr. Xi’s victory last March has dimmed. Mr. Li echoed the somber tone of Mr. Xi’s recent comments about the year ahead, which is dotted with sensitive anniversaries — above all, 30 years since the armed crackdown of June 3-4, 1989, on pro-democracy protests centered on Tiananmen Square in Beijing.
但是,习近平去年3月获胜的喜悦已经暗淡。李克强在报告中也使用了习近平在最近讲话中对未来一年所用的严峻口吻,这是一个充满敏感纪念日的一年——最要紧的是,今年是1989年6月3日夜至4日凌晨武装镇压以北京天安门广场为中心的民主抗议活动30周年。
Mr. Li made little mention of the trade frictions with the Trump administration. But he stressed the risks facing China.
李克强几乎没有提及与特朗普政府的贸易摩擦。但他强调了中国面临的风险。
“We will face a graver and more complicated environment, as well as risks and challenges,” Mr. Li said. “We must be fully prepared for a tough struggle.”
“今年我国发展面临的环境更复杂更严峻,可以预料和难以预料的风险挑战更多更大,”李克强说。“要做好打硬仗的充分准备。”
媒体正在参观定于6月完工的北京大兴国际机场。6月也是天安门镇压30周年,这是2019年中国最敏感的纪念日之一。
媒体正在参观定于6月完工的北京大兴国际机场。6月也是天安门镇压30周年,这是2019年中国最敏感的纪念日之一。 Kevin Frayer/Getty Images
The Chinese economy has slowed sharply since summer, mainly because of tight restrictions imposed on lending a year ago to curb debt. The trade war with the United States has also damaged the confidence of businesses and consumers, making entrepreneurs less willing to invest in export factories and consumers less eager to buy big-ticket items like apartments and new cars.
自去年夏天以来,中国经济增长大幅放缓,主要原因是一年前,政府为控制债务对贷款采取了严格的限制措施。与美国打贸易战也损害了企业和消费者的信心,使企业家不大愿意投资出口工厂,也让消费者不大愿意购买公寓和新车等昂贵商品。
“This was not a leadership that appeared strong and decisive with a clear vision,” said Elizabeth C. Economy, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York and the author of “The Third Revolution,” which studied Mr. Xi’s years in power.
“看起来这不是一个有明确远见、坚强果断的领导层,”总部设在纽约的外交学会(Council on Foreign Relations)高级研究员易明(Elizabeth C. Economy)说。她著有研究习近平掌权年代的《第三次革命》(The Third Revolution)一书。
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Besides slowing growth, she said, China’s leaders must contend with rising household debt, the failure of looser birth restrictions to slow the aging crisis and growing shortfalls in the pension system.
她说,除了经济增长放缓,中国领导人还必须应对家庭债务不断上升、放松生育限制未能减缓老龄化危机,以及养老金体系缺口不断增长等问题。
Mr. Li laid out how the government intends to turn around some of those problems.
李克强阐述了政府如何解决其中一部分问题的打算。
He set an ambitious target for economic growth this year of between 6 and 6.5 percent. That allows for slightly slower expansion than last year’s target of about 6.5 percent. Growth of China’s gross domestic product for 2018 came in at 6.6 percent. Many Western economists are suspicious that Chinese statistics may overestimate recent growth, however.
他为今年的经济增长设定了6%到6.5%的宏伟目标,比去年6.5%的增长目标略有放缓。中国2018年国内生产总值的实际增长率是6.6%。但许多西方经济学家怀疑,中国的统计数据可能高估了最近的经济增长。
The three main choices for maintaining high growth have been to further ramp up spending on roads, bridges, rail lines and other infrastructure; print more money and force banks to lend more; or cut taxes and deregulate.
维持高速增长的三个主要选择是,进一步加大公路、桥梁、铁路和其他基础设施的支出;印更多的钱,迫使银行增加放贷;或者减税、放宽对企业的管制。
The government has been slow to cut taxes or deregulate, preferring to maintain its revenues and control. But many tycoons want lower taxes. In his report, Mr. Li also said the government would reduce the burden on employers from social insurance and old-age insurance for workers.
政府在减税或放宽管制方面行动迟缓,因为政府想维持收入和控制权。但许多企业巨头希望减税。李克强在报告中还说,政府将减轻雇主在社会保险和职工养老保险方面的负担。
“Tax cuts and fee reductions get right to the spot in tackling the pains and difficulties” currently troubling businesses, he said.
“减税降费直击当前市场主体的痛点和难点,”他说。
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Mr. Li also promised to cut taxes a year ago. But economists believe that much of the effect of the nominal cuts was offset by stricter collection.
李克强一年前也曾承诺减税。但经济学家认为,名义上减税的大部分影响,实际上被更严格的征收抵消了。
“The more tax we have, the heavier our burden will be when we go overseas and go into battle,” said Liu Hanyuan, the chairman of Tongwei Group, a conglomerate making everything from fish food to solar panels.
“我们的税负越重,我们走向海外、投入战斗时的负担就越重,”通威集团董事局主席刘汉元说。通威集团生产从鱼食到太阳能组件等各种产品
天安门广场上的军人。李克强透露,中国将继续加大投入,推进军事现代化,不过军费增长略低于去年。
天安门广场上的军人。李克强透露,中国将继续加大投入,推进军事现代化,不过军费增长略低于去年。 Roman Pilipey/EPA, via Shutterstock
In the past decade, Beijing turned to huge, debt-fueled investments in infrastructure and big increases in the money supply each time that the economy appeared to be slowing more than the country’s leaders could tolerate. The infrastructure investments have given China one of the world’s finest transportation networks.
在过去10年间,每当中国经济放缓似乎超出领导人所能容忍的程度时,政府就会求助于债务推动的巨额基础设施投资,以及货币供应量的大幅增加。基础设施投资已把中国变成世界上交通网最好的国家之一。
But many companies and local governments are now struggling to pay all the debt they have accumulated. Rapid increases in mortgages and the broader money supply have driven the prices of apartments skyward, far beyond what most young people can afford. Real estate prices have jumped more than tenfold in the past two decades in many towns and cities.
但许多企业和地方政府现在都在努力偿还它们累积的大笔债务。抵押贷款的快速增长以及更宽松的货币供应推动了房价飙升,已远超大多数年轻人的承受能力。在过去20年里,中国许多城镇的房价上涨了10多倍。
China’s leaders set out at the start of last year to reduce debt — only to find that the economy slowed markedly by June. In July, President Trump began in earnest a trade war with China. By autumn, business and investor confidence had plummeted, investment in new factories and other equipment was stalling, and car sales were in a nose dive.
中国领导人去年初开始着手削减债务,结果发现,到去年6月,经济已显著放缓。7月,特朗普总统正式开始与中国打贸易战。到秋季时,企业和投资者信心大跌,对新工厂和其他设备的投资停滞,汽车销量骤减。
The government responded this winter by again ramping up infrastructure spending and debt. A broad measure of debt known as total social financing posted a record jump in January.
政府在冬天做出的回应是,再次增加基础设施支出和债务。到今年1月,被称为社会融资总额的广义债务衡量指标出现了创纪录的跃升。
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Total debt has not come down the way Chinese officials hoped a year ago. But China has made progress by cracking down hard on the barely regulated shadow banking system, while encouraging a big increase in the sale of bonds by local governments and corporations.
总债务并没有像中国官员一年前所希望的那样下降。但还是取得了一些进展,这主要是通过严厉打击曾几乎不受监管的影子银行系统,同时鼓励地方政府和企业大幅增加债券发行。
Relying more on bonds now means a less opaque system that may be a little less prone to sudden financial panics. But it has exposed another problem: Most small and medium-size enterprises are not large enough or profitable enough to issue bonds. These enterprises create 90 percent of the new jobs in China, but the state-controlled banking system has long been reluctant to lend to them.
如今对债券的更多依赖,意味着一个不太容易受突然出现的金融恐慌影响、透明度略有提高的系统。但这也暴露出另一个问题:大多数中小型企业的规模不够大,利润也不够高,它们无法发行债券。这些企业创造了90%的新就业机会,但国有银行系统长期以来不愿向它们发放贷款。
The annual work report by China’s premier, delivered in a very long speech in the Great Hall of the People, resembles in some ways the State of the Union address that the president of the United States delivers to Congress each year.
中国总理在人民大会堂发表的年度工作报告篇幅很长,在某些方面有点像美国总统每年向国会发表的国情咨文。
Mr. Li had little new to say about foreign policy or domestic political threats. But the proposed budget released at the same time as his speech revealed that China will continue to spend heavily to modernize its military, although at a slightly lower pace than last year. Military spending in 2019 would rise by 7.5 percent to about $178 billion, the budget showed. Last year, the military budget grew by 8.1 percent.
在外交政策或国内政治威胁方面,李克强几乎没有什么新的说法。但是,与他的工作报告同时公布的预算草案显示,中国将在军事现代化方面继续投入巨资,尽管增幅略低于去年。预算显示,2019年的军费开支将增长7.5%,达到11899亿元人民币。去年,军费预算的增长率是8.1%
“The world today faces profound changes of a kind unseen in a century,” Mr. Li said in his speech.
“当今世界面临百年未有之大变局,”李克强在报告中说。