China’s new Premier Li Qiang seeks to reassure private sector

China's new Premier Li Qiang seeks to reassure private sector

At the opening of the annual parliamentary session, China set a gross domestic product growth target of 5 per cent, its lowest goal in nearly three decades, after the economy grew just 3 per cent last year.

Achieving the target would not be easy, Li said, with China facing many difficulties this year.

“I’m afraid that reaching our growth target of around 5 per cent will be no easy task, and will require that we redouble our efforts,” Li said.

China missed its stated 2022 growth target of around 5.5 per cent by a wide margin as the economy was strained by the impact of strict COVID-19 policies and a property crisis.

Li said on Monday that the modest figure “has been determined after a comprehensive consideration of various factors”.

He warned of “many new challenges” to growth, but added that most people “don’t fix their sights every day” on the country’s growth figures.

Instead, he said, they care more about “specific issues close to them” such as housing, employment, income, education and health.

He also hit out at the United States, with relations at lows not seen in decades as the powers grapple over trade, technology and security.

“Encirclement and suppression are not advantageous for anyone,” Li said.

“China and the United States should cooperate, and must cooperate. When China and the US work together, there is much we can achieve,” he added.

Li’s comments capped more than a week of high-level meetings in Beijing that also saw President Xi handed another term in office, further cementing his position as China’s most powerful leader in generations.