China sets ambitious economic growth target of ‘around 5%’ for 2024, vows to ‘transform’ economy

Chinese leader Xi Jinping (left) and Premier Li Qiang (right) at the opening session of the National People’s Congress in Beijing on March 5. Greg Baker/AFP/Getty Images
Published March 5, 2024
BeijingCNN — China has set an ambitious economic expansion target of “around 5%“ for 2024, as its leaders vowed to “transform the growth model” in the face of significant challenges facing its development.

The figure — similar to last year’s growth target — was announced by Chinese Premier Li Qiang on Tuesday at the opening of the annual gathering of the National People’s Congress (NPC), the country’s rubber-stamp legislature, which draws nearly 3,000 delegates to Beijing for a week-long meeting.

“Stability is of overall importance, as it is the basis for everything we do,” Li said during the delivery of his maiden work report. “In particular, we must push ahead with transforming the growth model, making structural adjustments, improving quality, and enhancing performance.”

Li’s proclamation comes as Beijing is seeking to boost confidence in China’s economy, while grappling with a troubled property sectordeflationary pressuresan exodus of foreign capital, a battered stock market and a record low birth rate.

He delivered the report to an auditorium filled with delegates inside the cavernous Great Hall of the People. Delegates clapped in unison in time with a military band serenade as top leadership entered the room in a line led by Chinese leader Xi Jinping.

The political heart of Beijing, where the event is taking place, was under heavy security ahead of the event, with barricades and traffic controls restricting access to the public square and surrounding government buildings.

At the event, China also unveiled its annual military budget for 2024, which will increase by 7.2% to 1.67 trillion yuan ($230.6 billion), according to a draft report released separately. The growth rate for the defense budget is the same as last year’s.

The gross domestic product (GDP) target and military spending are among the most closely watched figures during the opening day of proceedings.

But investors appear to be disappointed about the lack of major stimulus measures. Hong Kong’s benchmark Hang Seng Index fell 2.6% by afternoon trade, the worst performer in Asia. The Hang Seng Tech Index sank 4%.



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China’s President Xi Jinping applauds as he arrives for the opening ceremony of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), with China’s Premier Li Qiang (right) and Politburo Standing Committee member Zhao Leji (left)…see more
Published March 5, 2024

BEIJING: China will target economic growth of about 5 per cent this year as it works to transform its development model, curb industrial overcapacity, defuse property sector risks and cut wasteful spending by local governments, Premier Li Qiang said on Tuesday (Mar 5).

Li delivered his maiden work report at the annual meeting of the National People’s Congress (NPC), China’s legislature, in the cavernous Great Hall of the People in Tiananmen Square.

The growth target was similar to last year’s but will require stronger government stimulus for China to reach it, as the economy remains reliant on state investments in infrastructure that have led to a mountain of municipal debt.

A stuttering post-COVID recovery in the past year has laid bare China’s deep structural imbalances, from weak household consumption to increasingly lower returns on investment, prompting calls for a new development model.

property crisisdeepening deflation, a stock market rout, and mounting local government debt woes have increased the pressure on China’s leaders to respond to these calls.

“We should not lose sight of worst-case scenarios and should be well prepared for all risks and challenges,” Li said.

“In particular, we must push ahead with transforming the growth model, making structural adjustments, improving quality, and enhancing performance.”

There were no immediate details on the changes China intended to implement.

Chinese stocks recovered earlier losses to trade largely unchanged on the day and the yuan was flat, suggesting investors were unimpressed with the stimulus plans and reform promises.

“Policymakers seem happy with the current trajectory,” said Ben Bennett, Asia-Pacific investment strategist at Legal And General Investment Management, adding the economic targets were “as expected”.





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