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China 'absolutely' will not have hard landing: official
by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) March 6, 2016

Facts about China's 2016-2020 growth plan
Beijing (AFP) March 5, 2016 - China on Saturday published the draft of its 13th Five-Year Plan, a blueprint for economic and social development over the 2016-2020 period.

Such plans are a legacy of China's command economy era but still guide policymakers, and the 148-page document is due to be approved by the ongoing National People's Congress, the country's Communist-controlled parliament.

Here are some main targets listed in the draft plan.

1. To grow China's economy, the world's second-largest, by an average of at least 6.5 percent a year over the period. Gross domestic product (GDP) to go from 67.7 trillion yuan ($10.4 trillion) last year to more than 92.7 trillion yuan in 2020.

2. The service sector to account for 56 percent of GDP by 2020, up from 50.5 percent in 2015.

3. To cap total energy consumption under five billion tonnes equivalent of coal by 2020, compared with 4.3 billion tonnes equivalent of coal last year.

4. To cut energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions per unit of GDP by 15 percent and 18 percent respectively from 2015 levels by 2020.

5. City air quality to be rated "good" or better at least 80 percent of the time by 2020, up from 76.7 percent in 2015.

6. To raise installed nuclear power capacity to 58 gigawatts by 2020, when another 30 gigawatts are scheduled to be under construction. Currently, 28.3 gigawatts are installed, with 26.7 under construction.

7. To expand the high-speed railway network to 30,000 kilometres (around 18,600 miles) by 2020, from 19,000 kilometres last year, and build at least 50 new civilian airports.

8. To boost per capita disposable income by 6.5 percent or higher every year. The figure grew by 7.4 percent in 2015.

9. To create a total of 50 million jobs in urban areas over the five years.

10. Permanent urban residents to make up 60 percent of China's total population by 2020, up from 56.1 percent last year. The proportion of people with urban "hukou", or household registration, is to reach 45 percent of the total population.

China's economy "absolutely will not" suffer a hard landing, the chief of its top planning body said Sunday, as Beijing's leaders try to reassure global investors about the world's second-largest economy.

Xu Shaoshi, head of the National Development and Reform Commission, made the comments to reporters on the second day of the annual meeting of the National People's Congress (NPC), the Communist-controlled legislature.

"China's economy absolutely will not have a hard landing," Xu said.

"So-called 'hard-landing' predictions will certainly fail," he said. "So please calm down, everyone, this possibility doesn't exist."

Xu said he did not believe China's economy was weighing down the global recovery, adding that "our contribution to the world economy is very clear".

China's economy, a key driver of global growth, faces a litany of challenges ranging from industrial overcapacity and excess housing stock to weak trade. Billionaire investor George Soros said earlier this year a hard landing was "practically unavoidable".

On Saturday Premier Li Keqiang set the growth target for this year in a range of 6.5-7 percent, acknowledging in a speech opening the NPC that "China will face more and tougher problems and challenges in its development this year, so we must be fully prepared to fight a difficult battle."

Li pledged that the government would increase deficit spending this year and make much-needed cuts to the steel and coal industries.

"Domestically, problems and risks that have been building up over the years are becoming more evident," he said.

China sets 2016 growth target at '6.5-7 percent': speech
Beijing (AFP) March 5, 2016 - China on Saturday cut its growth target for this year to a range of 6.5 to seven percent, the text of a speech to be delivered by Premier Li Keqiang showed.

Among the "main development targets" for the world's second-largest economy this year were "GDP growth 6.5 percent to 7 percent", read Li's speech to the opening of the National People's Congress parliament, the country's Communist-controlled legislature.

"A comprehensive analysis of all factors shows that China will face more and tougher problems and challenges in its development this year, so we must be fully prepared to fight a difficult battle," it said, adding that "downward pressure on the economy is growing".

China is a key driver of global growth but expansion fell last year to 6.9 percent, its lowest in a quarter of a century, and worries over its health have sent tremors through stock markets around the world.

Li struck a deeply realistic tone. The speech catalogued the impact on the country's outlook of weak trade growth, fluctuations in commodity and financial markets, and rising geopolitical risks, concluding: "We should not underestimate the impact all of this will have on China's development."

The growth target had been set at "about seven percent" last year.

China's leaders have traditionally declared the GDP goal at an easily achieved level that was regularly exceeded, and even then the objective is usually approximated to provide room for positive spin just in case.

Using a range, rather than a single figure, will widen the target even further.

- 'Market expectations' -

China was also targeting consumer inflation of "around 3 percent" and unemployment "within 4.5 percent", the text said.

It did not give a specific target for trade, which fell last year, only aiming for "a steady rise in import and export volumes" and "a basic balance in international payments".

It also pledged "further reductions in the release of major pollutants".

China is attempting a difficult transition from dependence on exports and investments to consumer-led growth.

Premier Li's speech pledged that authorities would make much-needed cuts to overcapacity in the steel, coal, and "other industries facing difficulties".

The country's leaders have sought to reassure jittery global markets in recent weeks with a unified message that authorities still have monetary and fiscal policy tools in their arsenal to keep the economy from further slowdown.

The text projected a government deficit for 2016 of 2.18 trillion yuan, reaching a deficit-to-GDP ratio of 3.0 percent, which would be the highest since the founding of the People's Republic in 1949.

This week, following a meeting of G20 finance ministers in Shanghai, the central bank trimmed the proportion of funds banks must set aside as reserves in an attempt to free up funds for lending, as a further stimulus to growth.

At the G20 meeting last month People's Bank of China governor Zhou Xiaochuan said that there was no basis for further depreciation of the yuan currency

Days later, the bank fixed the exchange rate at a four-week low.

"In setting a projected growth rate of between 6.5 percent and 7 percent we have taken into consideration the need to finish building a moderately prosperous society in all respects and the need to advance structural reform," said the speech text, distributed to journalists at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.

"It will also help guide market expectations and keep them stable."

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China's Communist-controlled parliament meets on Saturday to approve a new five-year plan to tackle slowing growth in the world's second-largest economy, as President Xi Jinping centralises power and narrows the spaces for public debate. Economic strains will loom over the annual meeting of the National People's Congress (NPC), the rubber-stamp parliament, after China's gross domestic produc ... read more

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