China Sets 2020 Goals as Legislature Convenes amid Tougher Challenges

Premier Li Keqiang on Saturday expressed his confidence of realizing China's 2020 goals, while mentioning to fight "a difficult battle" in face of tougher challenges.

The government work report, delivered by Li at the opening meeting of the national legislature annual session, sets this year's economic growth target at between 6.5 and 7 percent as well as the average annual growth rate for the next five years at above 6.5 percent.

The year 2016 is the starting year of China's 13th five-year plan towards 2020 by when China vowed to complete the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects. China aims to double the 2010 GDP and per capita personal income by 2020.

"We... become more aware of the need of uphold political integrity, keep in mind the bigger picture, follow the Communist Party of China (CPC) as the core of the Chinese leadership, act consistently with CPC Central Committee policies," Li said in his report.

Li's remarks echoed a recent article by Qiushi Journal, the CPC Central Committee flagship magazine, which said the "four consciousnesses.”

Faithfulness to the core leadership of the Party is characterized by staunch loyalty to "the Communist Party of China Central Committee, [its] General Secretary Xi Jinping as well as to Party theories, guidelines, principles and policies," the journal said.

About 3,000 deputies to the National People's Congress (NPC) listened to Li's report at the opening meeting, chaired by Zhang Dejiang, chairman of the NPC Standing Committee and executive chairperson of the session's presidium, along with top Party and state leaders Xi Jinping, Yu Zhengsheng, Liu Yunshan, Wang Qishan and Zhang Gaoli.

In his report, Li called on all Chinese to "rally closer around the CPC Central Committee headed by General Secretary Xi."


Growth For Five Years

China is facing slower growth and trying to shift its development to a more sustainable model.

Explaining why setting the growth rate in this range, Li said, "We have taken into consideration the need to finish building a moderately prosperous society in all respects and the need to advance structural reform."

Such a growth might help ensure employment and people's welfare, he said.

Last year, China realized a GDP growth of 6.9 percent, with a total output exceeding 60 trillion yuan (9.19 trillion U.S. dollars), which means every percentage point of GDP growth is equivalent to 1.5 points five years before or 2.5 points ten years before.

"The larger the economy grows, the greater the difficulty of achieving growth," Li said.

Despite slower growth, China still created 13.12 million new jobs and increased per capita disposable income by 7.4 percent.

The progress was achieved in the context of "extremely complicated and challenging international environment" and prominent deep-rooted domestic problem, Li stressed.

Warning "more and tougher problems and challenges" this year, the premier noted that the country must be fully prepared to fight a difficult battle.

As the world sees weak growth in trade and fluctuations in financial and commodity markets, whose impact should not be underestimated, China is facing the changing pace of economic growth, difficulties in restructuring, shift of growth engines and downward pressure, Li said.

"We will not be daunted by these problems and challenges," he said. "There is no difficulty we cannot get beyond."

The report listed a number of advantages, including a solid foundation laid by fast growth for years, hugely resilient economy, enormous potential, ample room for growth, new impetus provided by reform and finer macro-economic regulation.

Chi Fulin, a national political advisor and director of the China (Hainan) Institute for Reform and Development, said, "There are several very positive indicators in China's economy, for instance, fundamentals still in a reasonable range, a booming service sector and industrial restructuring."

China will continue to be a growth engine for the world as it is unveiling a new round of opening up, featured by the Belt and Road Initiative, international production capacity cooperation and infrastructure investment initiatives, he said.


Bigger Deficit & Overcapacity Cut

Li's reform listed a package of pragmatic policies to address economic weakness, including tax cut, flexible monetary policy, cut of overcapacity, and business creativity.

This year China's government deficit is expected to stand at 2.18 trillion yuan (335 billion U.S. dollars), 560 billion yuan more than last year, while the deficit-to-GDP ratio up from 2.3 to 3 percent.

The policy is mainly to cover tax and fee reduction, which is expected to ease the financial burden on industry by over 500 billion yuan together with other policies.

The premier also vowed to address capacity glut in steel, coal and other heavy industries as well as strictly control the expansion. About 100 billion yuan will be spent on resettling laid-off employees in these industries.

Wang Shiling, an NPC deputy and president of a real estate and trade company in east China's Shandong Province, told Xinhua that he feels positive about China's economic future.

"The government has included targeted policies to close loopholes and encourage initiative in industry. These are exactly what we need now," he said.


Source: Xinhua