China promises stimulus spending, sets no growth target

China sets no 2020 GDP goal due to coronavirus-caused economic challenges

China's premier to address nation on pandemic, economy

It was the first country to shut down factories, shops and travel to fight the pandemic and the first to reopen in March but it is still struggling to revive activity. It foreshadows more economic pain for a world that has become increasingly reliant on China as an engine of growth.

It marked the first time that China did not set a gross domestic product (GDP) goal since 1990 when the government started to publish such targets.

So this year, leaders are stressing economic stability and poverty alleviation rather than growth.

It also helps demonstrate that the virus outbreak has not thrown off track Xi's aim of establishing China as the primary regional power and diminishing the presence of its key rival, the U.S.

Before the pandemic, Beijing was widely expected to announce a growth target of around six percent this year.

The coronavirus has worsened already-poor ties between Beijing and Washington.

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In pledging state support, Li said the fiscal deficit will increase from past year by one trillion yuan, or around 143 billion dollars, for a deficit-to-GDP ratio of more than three-point-six percent.

China will strive for "a further drop in energy consumption per unit of GDP", Premier Li Keqiang told the annual National People's Congress in Beijing on Friday. The meeting had been delayed for almost three months as the country reeled from the coronavirus that first appeared in the central Chinese city of Wuhan.

"It is because our country will face certain factors that are hard to predict in its development due to the great uncertainty regarding the Covid-19 pandemic and the global economic and business environment".

Li said China wass "keenly aware of the difficulties and problems" the country faces, with COVID-19 sending the world economy into recession.

Forecasters say China is likely to face a "W-shaped recovery" with a second downturn and millions of politically volatile job losses later in the year due to weak USA and European demand for Chinese exports.

"This year's economic growth needs to reach around 3% to create 9 million new urban jobs", Nie said, adding that the size of the fiscal stimulus announced by Li is about 4 trillion yuan.

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Nie expects GDP growth to slow sharply this year to around 2% or 3% from last year's 6.1%.

But the official urban unemployment rate rose to six percent last month, with analysts saying the real figure could be even higher. To boost the non-state economy such as small-to-medium business performance, the government promises to cut taxes and encourage rent reductions.

Military delegates wearing face masks following the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, arrive to the Great Hall of the People before the opening session of the National People's Congress (NPC) in Beijing, China May 22, 2020.

Among the stimulus efforts, the premier said the government will increase national rail capital funds by 100 billion yuan ($14.05 billion) this year.

The People's Liberation Army (PLA) reached two major milestones a year ago, unveiling both China's first homegrown aircraft and its first intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching the US.

The economy shrank 6.8 per cent from 2018 in the first quarter.

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