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Wen calls for innovation and action 'early rather than late'

PREMIER Wen Jiabao has called on enterprises and officials to place priority on industrial upgrading and innovation, urging them to move "early rather than late" to ride through the global financial crisis.

Chinese companies should focus on adjusting product structure, improving quality and upgrading technology in the face of economic woes, said Wen during a visit to enterprises in the northeastern Liaoning Province over the weekend. The three-day visit ended yesterday.

Efforts should be especially stepped up to develop new products and foster intellectual property rights, while the government must cut burdens for enterprises and provide an easy environment for their innovation, said Wen.

"Intellectual property rights are at the heart of economic competition in modern times," Wen said, adding that the government must combine scientific and technological innovation with the bid to boost economic growth.

When visiting the Anshan Iron and Steel Group Corporation (Ansteel Group), a major steel producer based in Laoning's Anshan City, Wen told company officials to speed up phasing out obsolete technology and strictly control new capacity to curb oversupply in the steel industry.

Wen emphasized the implementation of the country's stimulus policies, including a 4-trillion-yuan (US$585 billion) investment package unveiled in November.

"The work should start early rather than late so that we can take the initiative and see earlier effects," he said. "Once the time is missed, we may lose the relative initiative we're enjoying now."

In addition to the stimulus package, the Chinese government has also announced a plan to expand rural home appliance purchases and support plans for 10 key industries such as the steel and auto sectors.

Wen told local governments to carry forward the country's strategic reinvigoration of the old industrial centers in the northeast, begun in 2003, saying the move laid a sound foundation for the region to tackle the current downturn. He encouraged enterprises to "have a dauntless spirit" in the face of difficulties. "With this spirit, all difficulties will be overcome and nothing can beat our country and our people."

The government has set an economic growth target of 8 percent for this year.


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