China faces a tough battle to keep its economy growing by at least 6.5 percent over the next five years while creating more jobs and restructuring inefficient industries, Premier Li Keqiang said as he opened China’s annual parliament on Saturday.
China’s President Xi Jinping and China’s Premier Li Keqiang stand up as they prepare to leave the opening session of the National People’s Congress (NPC) in Beijing, China, March 5, 2016.
Under China’s 1982 constitution, the most powerful organ of state is meant to be the National People’s Congress, China’s parliament.
China on Saturday increased its defence budget by 7.6 per cent to United States dollars 146 billion for this year, citing militarisation of the Asia-Pacific, especially the disputed South China Sea, and deepening tensions with the US. The country will seek to “strengthen the military in all respects so that it is more revolutionary, modern, and standardised”, the budget report said.
The stance of the Chinese toward Taiwan during recent meetings has remained unchanged, showing that the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and the Communist Party of China (CPC) have yet to embark on deep communications, a scholar said Saturday.
China should launch strong macro policies – including boosting fiscal deficit and giving its “prudent monetary policy” a “slightly easing bias” this year to help the economy to bottom out, the NDRC report said. The ruling Communist Party has been trying to shift away from a heavy emphasis on trade and investment to growth driven more by consumer spending.
China will implement its “cyber power strategy”, the five-year plan said, underscoring the weight Beijing gives to controlling the Internet, both for domestic national security and the aim of becoming a powerful voice in worldwide governance of the web. China’s GDP growth last year declined to the lowest in 26 years to 6.9 per cent.
“We will…oppose separatist activities for the independence of Taiwan, safeguard China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, maintain the peaceful growth of cross-strait relations and safeguard peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait”, he added.
Among the tasks for the year, Li also said that the plan to connect the Hong Kong and Shenzhen stock markets would be launched “at an appropriate time”. Rather than low-end goods, China should have advanced factories producing high-end equipment, Li said. It is also the first time in two decades that it has set a growth range – instead of a specific target – reflecting its leaders’ desire for policymaking flexibility as they push for longer-term economic reforms.
A government official said this week that 1.8 million workers are expected to be laid off in the coal and steel industries.
Mr Li’s determination for China to grow its way out of trouble will see a budgeted fiscal deficit of 3 per cent of GDP in 2016, up from 2.3 per cent past year.
In his report, Li called on all Chinese to “rally closer around the CPC Central Committee headed by General Secretary Xi”.
The government work report released by Premier Li Keqiang and a separate report from the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) focussed on the central role of BRI in China’s outlook in the coming years.
Similar to previous years, when Chinese leaders highlighted industries such as e-commerce as a growth focus, the new draft of China’s development plan specifically elevated big data and cloud computing, relatively new and promising fields that Chinese industry experts view as not yet cornered by USA companies that dominate other parts of the technology market.