NPC 2018: China to maintain growth target of around 6.5% for a 2nd year

People visiting the Bund in front of Shanghai's financial district of Pudong on Sept 28, 2017.
People visiting the Bund in front of Shanghai's financial district of Pudong on Sept 28, 2017.PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING - China has maintained its growth target at around 6.5 per cent this year as it prioritises high quality development over a high pace of growth, said Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Monday (March 5).

China also aims to achieve a drop of at least 3 per cent in energy consumption per unit of gross domestic product and continued reductions in the release of major pollutants, said Mr Li as he delivered the government's work report at the opening of the annual session of the national Parliament.

Substantive progress in supply-side structural reform, basic stable macro leverage, and systematic and effective prevention and control of risk are also on the cards.

"The above targets... are fitting given the fact that China's economy is transitioning from a phase of rapid growth to a stage of high-quality development," Mr Li told nearly 3,000 lawmakers at the Great Hall of The People in Beijing.

Last year, the world's No. 2 economy grew 6.9 per cent, its fastest expansion in seven years, exceeding the government target of around 6.5 per cent.

The better-than-expected growth was on the back of a global trade recovery.

Strong consumer spending, and the positive effects of supply-side reforms launched in 2015 to cut overcapacity, reduce housing stocks, deleverage and cut business costs also helped to boost growth.

Mr Li stressed that China will "put quality first and give priority to performance", while promising "bolder" reform and opening up measures.

 

He reiterated the call to prioritise fighting potential risks, poverty and pollution.

These battles "are important for decisively bringing to completion the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects", he said, referring to the goal of doubling 2010 per capita income and lifting all Chinese out of extreme poverty by 2020.

"We must make sure risks and potential dangers are effectively controlled, make sure poverty alleviation is fully accomplished, and make sure there is an overall improvement in the quality of the environment," he said.