China abandons growth target for first time, vows to boost its coronavirus-battered economy with significant spending

A paramilitary police officer stands guard outside the Great Hall of the People before the opening session of the National People's Congress on May 22, 2020.
A paramilitary police officer stands guard outside the Great Hall of the People before the opening session of the National People's Congress on May 22, 2020.PHOTO: REUTERS

For the first time, China has dispensed with a gross domestic product (GDP) target for the year, while vowing to boost its coronavirus-battered economy with significant government spending.

Premier Li Keqiang, in presenting the government's work report yesterday on the first day of the country's annual national legislature meeting, said the growth figure was being dropped because it was difficult to predict China's economic development due to the "great uncertainty regarding the Covid-19 pandemic and the world economic and trade environment".

He vowed to create more than nine million new urban jobs.

As expected, Beijing also raised its budget deficit target to 3.6 per cent this year, breaching for the first time the long-held red line of 3 per cent. In addition, it has pledged to issue one trillion yuan (S$200 billion) of special government bonds.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 23, 2020, with the headline 'China abandons growth target for first time'. Print Edition | Subscribe