China's Li vows to cut bureaucrat numbers

China will cut the number of officials and drive down costs involved with running the world's most populous country, Li Keqiang vowed on Sunday at his first news conference as premier.

Amid widespread popular anger at officials in the ruling Communist Party profiting from their positions, Li said Beijing would "lead by example" in enforcing wide-ranging cost-cutting measures.

"The number of people on the government's payroll will decrease, not increase," Li said at a press conference arranged for the end of China's parliamentary sessions.

"Spending on official hospitality, overseas trips for official business and the purchase of official vehicles will decrease, not increase."

Li, who has taken over day-to-day running of the government and is number two in the ruling party, said "practising frugality in government affairs" across the country would help "win" the trust of the people.

Public discontent over China's unequal wealth distribution is commonly directed towards officials, who are often viewed as being corrupt, and is a key concern for authorities anxious to avoid social unrest among China's 1.35 billion people.