"I don't deny that the Chinese economy is facing downward pressure and multiple risks," said Li Keqiang at a nationally televised press conference.
"The key is to find the balance between stable growth and structural adjustments under the new normal (of slower growth)."
"We haven't adopted the policy of strong short-term stimulus in recent years -- in other words... we still have plenty of tools in our toolbox," he offered.
Earlier this month, the People's Bank of China -- the central bank-- cut interest rates to guard against deflation
and the country set its lowest growth target
in 25 years.
Reforms like 'cutting off a limb'
Li, the No. 2 leader in China behind President Xi Jinping, also promised a further streamlined government to strengthen the role of free market in the economy.
"The pain of reform is still there, actually the pain is becoming more acute and in more places," he said.
"During the course of reform, vested interested will be tested -- but this is not nail clipping, this is like cutting off one's limb with a sword and we have to do it despite the pain."
Li held the highly choreographed annual press conference -- often the only occasion a senior Chinese leader faces the media -- after China's rubber-stamp parliament approved the government budget and concluded this year's 10-day session.
Li answered questions from pre-selected journalists that focused on the economy and touched on the government's stance on the anti-corruption campaign, the environment and foreign policy.
Before he was ushered out of the ornate room, the premier responded to a question shouted from the audience about Myanmar, whose warplanes reportedly dropped a bomb Friday
in a Chinese border town and killed four civilians.
"We have the responsibility and capability to firmly safeguard the stability of the Chinese-Myanmar border -- and will firmly protect the lives and property of our citizens," Li said to applause from Chinese reporters.