Premier Li Keqiang delivers the government work report at the first session of the 13th National People's Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, March 5, 2018. (Photo: China News Service/Du Yang)
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang delivered a government work report to the first session of the 13th National People's Congress (NPC) on Monday, outlining achievements made over the past five years and setting out targets for this year.[Special coverage]
As China's national legislature, this year's NPC carries particular significance as it is the first to be held following last year's 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC), while also coinciding with the 40th anniversary of China adopting the policy of reform and opening up.
The work report laid out a number of targets, particularly focusing on three critical battles of defusing major risks, fighting poverty and addressing pollution. To achieve these goals, Li emphasized the importance of adhering to CPC's leadership while ensuring that development is of high quality.
Maintaining stable growth, opening up and fighting risk
In 1978, China embarked on an ambitious package of reforms and opening up the economy, which have propelled the country forward at a remarkable pace in the 40 years since.
With China as the world's second largest economy, Li said in the work report that 2018 will see China look to achieve GDP growth of around 6.5 percent, maintaining the same target as 2017.
Li said China's economy was in a pivotal period in the transformation of its growth model, and outlined how the country would continue to develop its ongoing supply-side reform, while reiterating China's commitment to economic globalization.
Thirty million tons of excess steel capacity and 150 million tons of ineffective coal capacity will be cut this year, while taxes on businesses and individuals will be reduced by more than 800 billion yuan (126.4 billion US dollars).
China's general manufacturing sector will be completely opened up, with Li calling for China to provide a world-class business environment as support continues for steady growth in foreign investment.
Li also pointed to the importance of the Belt and Road Initiative in China's opening up, with China set to continue work on building major international corridors in cooperation with other countries.
Li pledged more backing for innovation, announcing the launch of a state financing guaranty fund for the sector, along with support for leading innovative enterprises in going public. Pilot preferential tax policies for venture capital investment and angel investment will be rolled out nationwide.
In terms of international trade, Li spoke out against protectionism and said China would resolutely safeguard its lawful rights, while calling for any disputes over trade to be settled through discussion as equals.
The Economic Work Conference held in December identified forestalling and defusing major risks as one of China's three critical battles.
In his government work report, Li described China's economic risks as manageable, but vowed there would be a serious crackdown on illegal activities. Coordination on financial regulation will be strengthened, while prudent steps to deal with outstanding debt will be taken.
All aspects of governance to be improved
On March 11, NPC deputies are set to vote on amendments to 21 items in China's Constitution, including writing Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era and adding a sentence stressing the Party's leadership into the Constitution.
In the work report, Li said that the government will strictly observe the Constitution and speed up work on building a government based on the rule of law.