6% GDP target for this year not low, says Chinese Premier Li Keqiang

China is aiming to create no fewer than 11 million jobs this year.
China is aiming to create no fewer than 11 million jobs this year.PHOTO: AFP

BEIJING - China's GDP goal this year of over 6 per cent is not a low target, says Chinese Premier Li Keqiang as he defended criticism that the figure set was too modest given widely-held forecasts of between 7 and 10 per cent.

The government is "keenly aware" of the uncertainty facing the country's economic rebound and global recovery, said Mr Li at his annual news conference at the end of China's parliamentary sessions on Thursday (March 11).

The Premier had announced the targeted growth rate last week at the start of the yearly meetings, defying expectations that he would, for the second time since 1990, not release a figure given last year's low base of 2.3 per cent growth.

There was no GDP goal set last year amid the raging Covid-19 pandemic.

"By setting our GDP growth at above 6 per cent, we've left the possibility open, which means actual economic growth may be higher than this," he said, adding that it was necessary to make economic development sustainable and promote high-quality growth.

"If you walk too fast, you may not be steady. Only when you're steady, you will have strength," he said.

There is no need for a "sharp turn" in policies this year as the government focuses on consolidating its economic recovery, he told reporters, adding that a top priority will be in job creation.

The country is aiming to create no fewer than 11 million jobs this year.

Mr Li also promised to look after the 200 million people that form China's gig economy, by providing them with subsidies and social insurance coverage.

Asked whether China's "dual circulation" economic strategy of boosting domestic consumption and developing technological self-sufficiency was in response to pressure from the US, Mr Li did not give a direct answer.

"The Chinese economy has become deeply integrated into the global economy. Shutting its door to the world will lead nowhere," he said.

"China will continue to take the initiative to open itself wider. That is what China itself needs. It is also beneficial for the whole world," said Mr Li, as he pledged to continue to open up the country's services sector.