Chinese Premier Li Keqiang delivers a government work report during the opening meeting of the fifth session of China's 12th National People's Congress (NPC) in Beijing, capital of China, March 5, 2017. (Xinhua/Pang Xinglei)
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Sunday pledged to continue reforms to attain the economic growth target of about 6.5 percent this year despite challenges ahead.[Special coverage]
The annual government work report, delivered by Li at the opening meeting of the annual session of the National People's Congress (NPC), China's top legislature, set the GDP growth target at around 6.5 percent, or higher if possible in practice.
The target, which Li said is "realistic and in keeping with economic principles," is the lowest for more than 20 years for China. Nonetheless, China remains one of the world's fastest-growing economies.
The target will help steer and steady expectations and make structural adjustments as well as help achieve the goal of building a moderately prosperous society in all respects by 2020, Li said while delivering the report at the session, the first since Xi Jinping was endorsed as the core of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee last October.
Li called for uniting more closely around the CPC Central Committee with Xi as the core and working hard to fulfill development targets.
2017 is of crucial importance for the country as the CPC will convene its 19th National Congress in the second half of the year to elect a new leadership for the next five years during which Xi's vision of a well-off society will be achieved.
Nearly 3,000 NPC deputies listened to Li's report at the meeting chaired by Zhang Dejiang, chairman of the NPC Standing Committee, along with Xi and other leaders.
GROWTH TARGET ACHIEVABLE
Li also announced that in 2017, China will keep its CPI increase at around 3 percent, and create more than 11 million urban jobs with a registered urban unemployment rate within 4.5 percent.
The country will also reduce its energy consumption per unit of GDP by at least 3.4 percent.
"An important reason for stressing the need to maintain stable growth is to ensure employment and improve people's lives," Li said.
Last year, China's GDP reached 74.4 trillion yuan (10.8 trillion U.S. dollars), a 6.7-percent growth, outpacing most other economies and contributing more than 30 percent of global growth.
Despite challenges, China created 13.14 million urban jobs and increased per capita disposable income by 6.3 percent. About 12.4 million people shook off poverty.
Noting that China must be ready to face more complicated and graver situations including sluggish world economic growth and growing trend of protectionism, Li expressed his confidence that difficulties will be overcome as the country has a solid material foundation, abundant human resources, a huge market, and a complete system of industries.
National lawmaker Zhang Zhao'an called the target "reasonable, pragmatic and reachable."
"You have to take into account the large base figure of China's economic aggregates. The moderate adjustment of the target signals a greater focus on the quality and returns of economic growth," said Zhang, vice president of Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences.