China opened its annual parliamentary session on Monday, cutting the projected economic growth to 7.5 percent and vowing to "make progress while maintaining stability" in 2012.
This is the first time that China lowered its annual economic growth target after setting it around eight percent since 2005. Its economy grew by 9.2 percent in 2011 after an expansion of 10.4 percent in 2010, the Xinhua news agency reported.
Reviewing the government's performance in 2011, Prime Minister Wen Jiabao said: "We consolidated and built upon our achievements in responding to the global financial crisis, and got the 12th Five-Year Plan period off to a good start."
Nearly 3,000 National People's Congress (NPC) Deputies from across the country along with President Hu Jintao are attending the session, the last under the current leadership. NPC Standing Committee Chairman Wu Bangguo presided. The year 2012 is important for China amid a leadership transition at the 18th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) to be convened later this year.
Wen said China still faced many difficulties and challenges in economic and social development. Internationally, the road to global economic recovery would be tortuous, the global financial crisis was still evolving, and some countries would find it hard to ease the sovereign debt crisis any time soon, he said in his report.
Unemployment rate remains high in major developed economies, and they lack impetus for growth. Emerging economies face the dual pressures of inflation and slowing economic growth, the report said. Domestically, it has become more urgent but also more difficult to solve institutional and structural problems and alleviate the problem of unbalanced, uncoordinated, and unsustainable development, it added.
Despite all the challenges, Wen noted that China was still in "an important period of strategic opportunities" for development, and there were a number of favorable conditions to maintain steady and robust economic development for a long time.
Industrialization, urbanization and agricultural modernization are proceeding rapidly, and improvements in the consumption pattern and the industrial structure will create huge potential demand, he said and added that China still had its traditional strengths in economic development, as well as rich human resources and a more skilled workforce.
"We have a good balance between government revenue and expenditures and a sound financial system, and there is ample non-governmental capital," Wen said and vowed that this year the government would "make progress while maintaining stability."
In addition to a projected GDP growth rate of 7.5 percent, efforts would be made to create more than nine million new jobs in towns and cities and keep the registered urban unemployment rate at or below 4.6 percent, he said.
"Here I wish to stress that in setting a slightly lower GDP growth rate, we hope to make it fit with targets in the 12th Five-Year Plan, and to guide people in all sectors to focus their work on accelerating the transformation of the pattern of economic development and making economic development more sustainable and efficient, so as to achieve higher-level, higher-quality development over a longer period of time," Wen said.
by RTT Staff Writer
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