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China sets modest economic targets as it seeks to bounce back from Covid woes

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China has set a target of 5% GDP growth in 2023, its outgoing premier has said in a speech to the ruling party’s rubber-stamp parliament – a goal that is at the lower end of analysts’ expectations and follows a 2022 figure that came in far below target.The “work report” speech on Sunday also touched on foreign affairs and re-emphasised the Chinese Communist party’s (CCP’s) aim to annex Taiwan.

Budget papers confirmed another consecutive rise in defence spending of 7.2%, slightly up on last year’s rise of 7.1%.Li Keqiang, in what is likely his final major address before stepping down as China’s premier, opened the annual meeting of the National People’s Congress (NPC).

The work report – which required the approval of the CCP leader, Xi Jinping – outlined the government’s main achievements of the past year and plans for the next.This year’s meeting is particularly significant as it marks the rollover of one political term to the next, after Xi’s precedent-breaking third term at the helm of the party was reaffirmed in October.Xi’s consolidation of power has seen rivals purged and loyalists elevated in the ranks of the CCP.

The removal of Li, who was a member of a rival faction, from his No 2 rank in the party was interpreted by some as a sign of the power play.Li’s speech, delivered to an audience of almost 3,000 NPC delegates and Xi, was heavily focused on promoting China’s “full economic recovery” after being battered for several years by the pandemic, the impact of Xi’s strict zero-Covid policy and a flailing property and development sector.

Read more on theguardian.com
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