March 5, 2015 / 12:27 AM / 2 years ago

China premier vows to fight pollution, corruption

China's President Xi Jinping (L) and Premier Li Keqiang arrive for the opening session of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, March 3, 2015.Jason Lee

BEIJING (Reuters) - Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said on Thursday his government would do everything it could to fight pollution and pledged zero tolerance for corruption, two highly sensitive topics that have become lightning rods for public discontent.

Li, speaking at the opening of the annual full session of the National People's Congress, the country's largely rubber-stamp parliament, called pollution a "blight on people's quality of life and a trouble that weighs on their hearts".

"We must fight it with all our might," Li said.

"We must strictly enforce environmental laws and regulations; crack down on those guilty of creating illegal emissions and ensure they pay a heavy price for such offences; and hold those who allow illegal emissions to account, punishing them accordingly."

On corruption, a deep-seated problem President Xi Jinping has vowed to fight, Li said the battle would not end.

"Our tough stance on corruption is here to stay; our tolerance for corruption is zero, and anyone guilty of corruption will be dealt with seriously. We will see to it that every instance of corruption, should it be committed higher up or lower down, is severely punished," he said.

"We will intensify government supervision, make full use of auditing oversight, and strictly monitor public funds, public resources and state-owned assets."

Xi has said he would target high-ranking "tigers" as well as lowly "flies" in his anti-corruption drive.

Several senior current and former officials have fallen in Xi's campaign, including retired domestic security chief Zhou Yongkang, one of China's most powerful politicians of the past decade, who is accused of crimes ranging from accepting bribes to leaking state secrets.

(This story has been refiled to correct the spelling of lightning in paragraph 1)

Reporting by Megha Rajagopalan; Writing by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Alex Richardson and Dean Yates

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