China approves five-year plan against economic headwinds

TOKYO, March 16 (KUNA) — China’s legislature on Wednesday approved the country’s economic and social development blueprint for the 2016-2020 period, which sets targeted average annual economic growth at above 6.5 percent in the next five years, according to the official Xinhua News Agency.
A total of about 2,800 lawmakers voted for the five-year plan at the closing meeting of the 12-day annual session of the National People’s Congress. The 6.5-percent annual growth rate over a five-year period is the lowest for over three decades. Last year, gross domestic product (GDP) grew 6.9 percent in 2015, the slowest in a quarter of a century.
The world’s second-largest economy has set 2020 as the target year to realize the “centenary goal” of building a moderately-prosperous society in all respects, pledging efforts to double GDP and per capita personal income from the 2010 level before the Communist Party of China’s 100th anniversary of founding in 2021. By 2020, China’s GDP is expected to exceed CNY 90 trillion (USD 13.8 trillion), compared with CNY 67.7 trillion (USD 10.4 trillion) in 2015, according to the plan.
Meanwhile, Premier Li Keqiang said that China’s economy will not suffer a hard landing and there are more hopes than difficulties.
“As long as we stay on the course of reform and opening up, China’s economy will not suffer a hard landing,” Li was quoted as saying at a press conference following the conclusion of the country’s annual legislative session. The premier said global economic growth is sluggish and China has been affected by the weak performance. The country is also going through a transition and some deep-seated problems, which have built up over the years, have become more acute. “All these have added to downward pressure on China’s economic growth,” said Li.
Another prominent feature of the world’s second-largest economy is that growth prospects for different regions and sectors have become more divergent, according to the premier. “There are both difficulties and hopes for China’s economy. But given the underlying trend and fundamentals, there are more hopes than difficulties,” said Li. The government is still overreaching itself in some aspects of economic operations and it needs to take more actions to ensure a level playing field on the market.
“I believe that reform will further stimulate market vitality and public creativity. With the wisdom and the hard work of our people, we will be able to withstand the downward pressure,” said Li.
The supply-side structural reforms China has been pursuing, including streamlining administration, delegating powers of the government and cutting corporate taxes, will unleash more market vitality. “At the same time, new forces that drive China’s development are fast taking the shape in a way that has gone beyond our expectations,” said Li.
Last year, global economic growth slid to a six-year low. But still China managed to meet its economic development target of around seven percent. Instead of resorting to massive stimulus measures, the country has chosen a much harder but sustainable path of development — pursuing structural reforms. In case there is any sign that the economy may slide out of its appropriate range, the government will employ innovative means to exercising macroeconomic regulation to ensure steady economic performance. (end) mk.hb