President Xi Jinping highlighted the importance of high-quality economic growth and poverty reduction while talking with lawmakers in Beijing on Monday.

Xi, also general secretary of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, made the remark while attending a panel discussion with deputies to the National People’s Congress from the Inner Mongolia autonomous region. In January, Xi was elected deputy to the NPC by a unanimous vote in Inner Mongolia.

Xi said that by representing Inner Mongolia as a deputy from the region, he demonstrated the great attention that the CPC Central Committee pays to ethnic minority and border region affairs and the CPC Central Committee’s firm resolve to reduce poverty.

The emphasis in China’s economy has been changed from the previous era of high-speed growth to one of high-quality growth, with great changes taking place in the economy, such as upgrading of the people’s consumption patterns, Xi said.

Xi told the lawmakers from coal-rich Inner Mongolia that if they don’t change their development philosophy, the opportunities for economic growth will be missed.

To achieve high-quality growth, it is important to upgrade the industrial structure and build strong real economies, Xi said, adding that more effort is needed to develop new, high-end and technology-intensive industries.

Xi highlighted the importance of developing a modern-energy economy, following the global trend of an energy technology revolution, and improve the efficiency of energy consumption.

When Xi stepped into the conference room, he was presented with a blue hada, a piece of silk that is a traditional ethnic greeting gift in Inner Mongolia. Xi extended Lunar New Year greetings to the 25 million people living on the grassland and wished them a happy life and successful career.

During the discussion, eight NPC deputies made speeches on such issues as rural revitalization, tourism, poverty alleviation, economic growth and reform of State-owned enterprises.

After hearing the speeches, Xi said that he fully supports the Government Work Report delivered by Premier Li Keqiang in the morning, which looked back at the government’s work of the past five years and raised the government’s goal for this year.

Xi encouraged the people of Inner Mongolia to make more efforts to address the problem of unbalanced and inadequate development, upgrade the quality of economic growth, and promote better economic and social development.

Xi stressed the importance of preventing and resolving debt risks effectively, saying that the government should keep a close eye on the issue.

He urged more effort to protect the environment, including preventing desertification of the grasslands, protecting forests and wetlands, and preventing air, water and soil pollution, in order to build a “green great wall” on the country’s northern border.

The sign indicating completion of building a moderately prosperous society in all respects is that all rural poor people are lifted out of poverty, Xi said.

The key to poverty reduction is to help those people in impoverished, densely populated places, he said.

Xi required the local government to take more effective measures for targeting poverty reduction, pay a lot of attention to villages with large poor populations, and address such key problems as industrial development, employment, infrastructure, public service and healthcare.

Xi pledged to fight corruption during poverty reduction efforts and severely punish those who embezzle poverty alleviation funds. Saying that the people hate formalism and bureaucracy in poverty reduction work, Xi urged officials to resolve such issues.

In his speech, Xi also highlighted the importance of ethnic unity. It is essential to uphold and improve regulations on autonomy in ethnic regions, Xi said, adding that the CPC’s policies on ethnic regions should be fully implemented.

Xi stressed that education is of great significance in ethnic unity, and that all ethnic groups should hold together tightly like pomegranate seeds.

Socialist core values should be cultivated and practiced in all ethnic groups, and such education should be stressed from kindergarten, Xi said.

Contradicting interests among ethnic groups as well as in ethnic regions should be handled properly to build a secure and stable northern border region, Xi said.