Annual NPC session unveils China's action plan for rejuvenation

Updated 2018-03-06 08:42:07 Xinhua

The Qinzhou Port is seen in Qinzhou City, south China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, Jan. 10, 2018. China's national legislature convened its annual session Monday, announcing actions that will shape efforts in the years to come to make China a great modern socialist country.(Xinhua/Lu Boan)

China's national legislature convened its annual session Monday, announcing actions that will shape efforts in the years to come to make China a great modern socialist country.[Special coverage]

That vision and a two-step approach were raised at the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) last October: for socialist modernization to be basically completed by 2035, and to become a great modern socialist country by the middle of the century.

Monday's opening of the National People's Congress (NPC) session marks a key national assembly after the Party congress. Observers say it will lay a solid foundation to turn the Party's blueprint into action in a "issue by issue, year in and year out" fashion.

Before nearly 3,000 NPC deputies gathering at the Great Hall of the People, Premier Li Keqiang delivered the government work report.

He called on the people to rally even closer around the Party Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at the core, be enterprising and work hard.

"Let us make new contributions to make these goals a reality," he said.

The premier struck a confident note as he went over "historic achievements" made in the past five years, despite an "extremely complex" environment both at home and abroad.

China's gross domestic product (GDP) rose from 54 trillion yuan to 82.7 trillion yuan; more than 68 million people were lifted out of poverty; 66 million new urban jobs were added.

And the country is leading the world in high-speed rail, e-commerce, mobile payment and the sharing economy.

QUALITY GROWTH, TAX CUTS

According to the work report, the central government set the GDP growth target at around 6.5 percent for 2018.

The target is the same as last year, but might deliver different growth as China makes it clear to prioritize quality over speed.

"We will strongly promote high-quality development," Premier Li said.

Observers have said that although continuous breakneck growth is now history, China will continue its role as the global economy's stabilizer as growth quality improves and the market further opens up.

In manufacturing, China's traditional sector of strength, for example, the government will launch an initiative to shore up weaknesses in major equipment manufacturing and promote the development of integrated circuits, 5G mobile communications, aircraft engines and new energy vehicles.

China is seen having an edge in artificial intelligence (AI), which may shift the landscape of manufacturing of tomorrow.

Robin Li, the founder of search engine Baidu, is a leader in the AI sector. The company is spending heavily on autonomous driving systems.

"I meet strangers who stop me on the street and ask when the self-driving cars can be on the road because they don't want to learn driving," said Li. "AI makes our life easier."

Baidu and its partners gained a good start thanks to China's favorable business climate.

If industry leaders embrace cooperation and open market, the sector would get a further shot in the arm, the Internet tycoon said.

On Monday, the market is assured with a promise of tax cuts.

Premier Li expects the sum of reduced taxes on businesses and individuals in 2018 to amount to 800 billion yuan.

Great numbers of small low-profit businesses will see their income tax halved, and the ceilings on deductible business purchases of instruments and equipment will be significantly raised, he said.

In fact, tax cuts have been a consistent policy over the years.

A total of 918.6 billion yuan was saved last year as the reform to replace business tax with value-added tax (VAT) was carried out.

Considered the biggest tax overhaul in decades, VAT is replacing the business tax, streamlining procedure and avoiding repetitive taxation.

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