The National People’s Congress also planned to give Xi Jinping a third term as president and implement the biggest change of government in a decade.
China’s National People’s Congress has kicked off its annual parliamentary session and announced a modest economic growth target of about 5 percent.
The session, which began in Beijing on Sunday, will also hand President Xi Jinping a third term in office and make the biggest government change in a decade.
Outgoing Premier Li Keqiang opened the meeting at 09:00 (0100 GMT) and read a work report stating that it was essential to prioritize economic stability and set an economic growth target of “around 5 percent”, a of the country’s lowest in decades.
The report also announced a target to create about 12 million urban jobs this year, up from last year’s target of at least 11 million.
China’s gross domestic product (GDP) grew just 3 percent last year, one of its worst results in decades, weighed down by three years of COVID-19 restrictions, a crisis in the massive real estate sector, a crackdown on private enterprises and a declining demand for Chinese exports.
“Under the strong leadership of the Party Central Committee, we have carried out the COVID-19 response and pursued economic and social development in an effective and well-coordinated manner,” the government report said.
“By overcoming major difficulties and challenges, we have managed to maintain a generally stable economic performance,” it added.
The Chinese government also set a budget deficit target of 3.0 percent of GDP, according to the report, which is higher than last year’s target of about 2.8 percent.
At this year’s parliamentary session, Li and a string of more reform-minded economic policy officials will step aside to make way for loyalists of Xi, who further tightened his grip on power when he declared a precedent-breaking third leadership term at the Communist Party Congress in October. secured. .
During the NPC, former Shanghai party chief Li Qiang, a longtime ally of Xi, is expected to be confirmed as prime minister, tasked with reviving the world’s second-largest economy.
The rubber stamp parliament, which ends on March 13, will also discuss Xi’s plans for an “intensive” and “broad” reorganization of state and communist party entities, state media reported Tuesday, with analysts expecting further deepening of the reorganization. Intrusion of the Communist Party into state organs.
The NPC opened on a smoggy day amid tight security in the Chinese capital, with 2,948 delegates gathered in the cavernous Great Hall of the People on the west side of Tiananmen Square.
It is the first NPC gathering since China abruptly dropped its zero-COVID policy in December following rare nationwide protests.
Steve Tsang, director of the SOAS China Institute at the University of London, said Xi now had a chance to show off his response to the pressure caused by last year’s unrest.
“He acted decisively when the protests called for him and the CCP to resign. He destroyed them and took away the root cause,” he told AFP news agency.
“He can present himself as a leader from the front, instead of being forced to react.”
China faces numerous headwinds globally, including deteriorating relations with the United States, which seeks to block its access to advanced technologies, and strained ties with Western Europe, a key trading partner, due to Beijing’s diplomatic support for Russia in its war in Ukraine. .