China sets 2013 economic growth at 7.5% as its Parliament opens

BEIJING - China has set an unchanged 7.5 per cent growth target for this year, continuing its focus and efforts in rebalancing the world's second-largest economy from export-driven to domestic consumption.

Outgoing Premier Wen Jiabao gave the figure in his government work report on Tuesday at the opening of the annual session of the National People's Congress (NPC), its national parliament, which will end on Mar 17 and produce new state and government leaders under the charge of Communist Party chief Xi Jinping for the next decade.

China’s economy is seen as a key driver of the global recovery, but has struggled in the face of weakness at home and in key overseas markets, with Europe assailed by its debt crisis and US growth remaining anaemic.

Mr Wen's report sums up the government's work over the last five years, though it is viewed by many as his own report card on his 10-year premiership stint since 2003.

Separately, the Xinhua news agency reported Tuesday that China will increase its defence spending by 10.7 per cent this year to about 720 billion yuan. Though a shade lower than the 11.2 per cent spike last year, the spike continues an almost-unbroken double-digit military expansion over the past 20 years.

kianbeng@sph.com.sg