China sets 6.5% growth target, with eye on stability

China's Premier Li Keqiang delivers a government work report during the opening session of the National People's Congress (NPC) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, on March 5, 2017.
China's Premier Li Keqiang delivers a government work report during the opening session of the National People's Congress (NPC) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, on March 5, 2017.PHOTO: REUTERS

China has set a growth target of 6.5 per cent, meant to maintain stability in a year when a crucial leadership transition will take place.

However, Premier Li Keqiang's government work report also shows the world's second-largest economy intends to continue with reforms to develop new growth drivers and upgrade the economy.

Speaking at the opening of the National People's Congress, China's Parliament, Mr Li set a lower target of "around 6.5 per cent, or higher if possible" after the economy grew 6.7 per cent last year, the slowest rate in 26 years.

He also addressed issues close to the people's hearts, including soaring housing prices and air pollution. He promised to "make our skies blue again".

Mr Li also spoke about making progress in free-trade deals as President Xi Jinping yesterday said China would continue to open up, particularly to further liberalise trade and investment.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 06, 2017, with the headline 'China sets 6.5% growth target, with eye on stability'. Print Edition | Subscribe