Chinese Premier Li Keqiang vowed Thursday at the close of the annual session of the National People's Congress that his government would crack down harshly on corruption and pollution.

Li, who like President Xi Jinping is wrapping up his first year in office this week, told a press conference that his government would show "zero tolerance" for corruption.

China "is a country under the rule of law. No matter who the person is or how senior the position, if they violate party discipline and the law of the country, they will be punished because everyone is equal before the law," the premier said.

Despite the tough talk, however, Li gave no concrete examples and made no reference to the apparent corruption investigation targeting Zhou Yongkang, the former head of China's security apparatus.

Journalists, meanwhile, asked no questions about Zhou during the press conference.

Some reporters had been warned beforehand not to bring up that case under threat of being included on a "black list" and barred from asking questions in the future, the South China Morning Post, a Hong Kong daily, reported.

Referring to pollution, which is particularly problematic in northern China, Li said the country needs "tougher measures and regulations to combat it."

"Supervisory bodies that turn a blind eye to polluting and fail to fulfill their duties will be held accountable," the Chinese leader said.

"What we're saying is we're going to declare war on an inefficient and unsustainable model of growth and way of life," Li said.

The State Council issued a 10-point plan last year on the prevention and control of air pollution, but some critics say the official Chinese measures are mostly unrealistic.

China also has set a goal of reducing energy intensity - the ratio of energy consumption per unit of economic output - by 3.9 percent, equivalent to burning 22 million fewer tons of coal, the main source of energy for the world's second-biggest economy, Li said.

The causes of pollution are "complex" and it will take time to tackle the problem, the premier said. EFE