China sets growth target of 'above 6 pct' for 2021

Agence France-Presse

Posted at Mar 05 2021 10:29 AM | Updated as of Mar 05 2021 10:30 AM

China sets growth target of 'above 6 pct' for 2021 1
People walk at the Bund, in front of Lujiazui financial district of Pudong, on the day of the opening session of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), in Shanghai, China March 4, 2021. Aly Son, Reuters/File

BEIJING - China's leaders set an economic growth target of "above 6 percent" for 2021 on Friday, at the opening of the country's annual legislative session.

"A target of over 6 percent will enable all of us to devote full energy to promoting reform, innovation, and high-quality development," the Premier Li Keqiang will say, according to an advance copy of his speech.

Officials avoided a specific target in 2020 for the first time in years, after the COVID-19 outbreak handed China its first economic contraction in decades.

The freezing of the economy then raised some doubts about the Communist Party's pledge of continued prosperity in return for unquestioned political power.

Some analysts had believed that global uncertainty and distortions from the pandemic would lead China to holding off on a target for a second year.

But with China containing the coronavirus domestically thanks to strict lockdowns and mass virus testing, the world's second-largest economy is set for a strong comeback.

"In setting this target, we have taken into account the recovery of economic activity," Li said, according to the advance copy of his speech.

The government usually sets economic growth targets that it regularly exceeds.

Based on many analysts' forecasts, China's economy is expected to grow around 8 percent to 9 percent this year, said OCBC Bank's head of Greater China research Tommy Xie.

Apart from a growth target, China's authorities are also looking to create over 11 million new urban jobs, and keep a surveyed urban unemployment rate of around 5.5 percent, according to Li's speech.

China also set the budget deficit ratio at "around 3.2 percent" -- slightly lower than last year's figure.


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