Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on May 25 acknowledged China’s poor economic conditions at an economic conference attended by more than 100,000 officials from across the country. However, according to NTD, the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) media system did not report Li’s speech. Instead, they denied the speech.
At the conference, Li confessed that China’s poor economy has severely impacted the central government’s fiscal revenue. He added that the national budgetary revenue declined in April by 5.9% and local budgetary revenue fell even faster, down 6.6%.
He revealed that many provinces requested approval for emergency bond issuance to tide over their difficulties. Still, the central regime only had one emergency fund left, and local authorities had to rely on themselves.
Li Keqiang also bluntly said that the current problem in China’s economy is “bigger” than in 2020 when the epidemic broke out.
NTD said that although Li’s speech received international media attention, the CCP media deleted many parts of his speech, even deleting the full-text address circulating on social media.
Near midnight on the 25th, the Economic Daily, a newspaper directly under the Central Committee sponsored by the State Council of the CCP, suddenly published an article denying Li Keqiang’s speech that afternoon. The following day, Xinhua News Agency, People’s Daily, and other CCP media reprinted the above denial article.
According to NTD, the Economic Daily article highlighted Xi Jinping’s earlier rhetoric on the economy at the Politburo meeting, but the data cited in the article were unconvincing. Moreover, regarding the specific issues mentioned by Li Keqiang, the article either denied or ignored them.
Journalist Zhou Xiaohui said that Li Keqiang suggested that the CCP’s zero-Covid policy hindered economic development in front of so many officials.
Zhou also said that it is not surprising that Li Keqiang’s speech was deleted and denied. It is not surprising that there is frequent wrestling among the top leaders of the CCP.
On the day of Li Keqiang’s released speech, the Wall Street Journal published an article that said when Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang met with foreign executives, it seemed the two spoke with two voices.
In a video conference with foreign executives on May 18, Xi made little mention of China’s economic downturn.
In a meeting with foreign executives in Beijing a day later, Li Keqiang focused on China’s problems.
During the one-and-a-half-hour meeting, Li Keqiang didn’t mention the zero-Covid policy.
When foreign business representatives spoke of the zero-Covid policy making China increasingly isolated, Li Keqiang asked attendees to tell foreign governments that Beijing listened closely to all issues.