China sets economic growth target of about 5 percent as parliament opens

BEIJING (Reuters) – China has set a modest economic growth target this year of around 5%, according to a government work report on Sunday, as the National People’s Congress (NPC) kicked off its parliamentary session. annual.
In the report, outgoing Premier Li Keqiang said it was essential to prioritize economic stability, setting the target of creating around 12 million urban jobs this year, against the target of at least 11 million from last year.
China’s gross domestic product (GDP) grew just 3% last year, one of its worst performances in decades, squeezed by three years of COVID-19 restrictions, the crisis in its vast sector real estate, repression of private companies and weakening demand for Chinese exports.
This year’s target of around 5% was on the lower end of expectations, as political sources had recently told Reuters that a range as high as 6% could be set.
Li set a government budget deficit target of 3.0% of GDP, according to the report, up from a target of around 2.8% last year.
This year’s parliamentary session will implement the biggest government reshuffle in a decade as Beijing faces a host of challenges and seeks to revive its COVID-battered economy.
Li and a slate of more reform-minded economic policymakers are set to retire during the congress, making way for loyalists of President Xi Jinping, who further tightened his grip on power by securing a third term as Communist Party leader. of October. Congress.
During the NPC, the former Shanghai party leader Li Qianga longtime ally of Xi, is expected to be confirmed as prime minister, tasked with reinvigorating the world’s second-largest economy.
The buffer parliament, which ends on March 13, will also discuss Xi’s plans for an “intensive” and “far-reaching” reorganization of state and Communist Party entities, state media reported Tuesday, analysts expecting a further deepening of Communist Party penetration into state organs.
The NPC opened on a smoggy day amid tight security in the Chinese capital, with 2,948 delegates gathering in the cavernous Great Hall of the People on the west side of Tiananmen Square.
It is the first NPC meeting since China abruptly abandoned its zero COVID policy in December, following rare nationwide protests.


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