China cancels premier’s Parliament press conference for first time since 1993

National Party Congress (NPC) spokesman Lou Qinjian said the premier would not give media briefings at the conclusion of future NPCs. - PHOTO: AFP

BEIJING (Reuters/AFP): China’s Premier Li Qiang will not hold a press conference after the close of 2024’s annual parliamentary meeting, an official said on Monday (March 4), ending a tradition maintained for three decades.

Since 1993, China’s premiers have met the media after the annual gathering of the National People’s Congress (NPC), offering journalists, including the foreign press, a rare chance to ask questions in a typically wide-ranging news conference.

The decision was made because there would be more briefings by government ministers during the annual Parliament meeting, in which senior cabinet officials will talk about issues on diplomacy, economy and people’s livelihood, NPC spokesman Lou Qinjian told reporters on Monday.

The premier would not give media briefings at the conclusion of future NPCs, Lou added.

At the close of the annual Parliament in 2023, Li sought to reassure the country’s private sector in his first media conference as premier.

Lou also said China hopes relations with the United States can improve, no matter which candidate wins the US presidential election in November.

“You mentioned the US presidential election, it is an internal affair of the United States,” Mr Lou told a press conference in response to a question about the vote.

“No matter who becomes the president, we hope that the United States can work in the same direction with China and work for a stable, healthy and sustainable China-US relationship,” he said.

To stabilise and improve China-US relations is something that everyone follows closely and expects to see, Mr Lou said, adding: “China’s position has been consistent.” - REUTERS/AFP

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