China unveils 2024 growth targets with focus on high-quality development

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* China aims to achieve a GDP growth rate of around 5 percent for 2024, one of the key development goals unveiled Tuesday as the national legislature began its annual session.

* A proactive fiscal policy and a prudent monetary policy will be continued in 2024, with enhanced consistency of the macro policy orientation.

* Major pro-growth steps including boosting consumption and effective investment will be rolled out to underpin the country’s high-quality development.

China seeks to achieve a GDP growth rate of around 5 percent for 2024, the latest signal that the world’s second-largest economy is committed to high-quality development despite uncertainties at home and abroad.

The projected goal, which remains unchanged from the previous year’s growth target, is one of the key development objectives unveiled in the government work report delivered by Premier Li Qiang to the national legislature, which began its annual session Tuesday.

In 2024, China aims to create over 12 million jobs in urban areas, and keep the surveyed urban unemployment rate at about 5.5 percent, said the report. The country also plans to spend 1.66554 trillion yuan (around 234.5 billion U.S. dollars) on defense, up 7.2 percent, and sets an inflation target of about 3 percent.

The opening meeting of the second session of the 14th National People’s Congress (NPC) is held at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, capital of China, March 5, 2024. (Xinhua/Lu Ye)

A REASONABLE GOAL

The GDP growth target of around 5 percent for this year was set after the Chinese economy showed solidity and resilience in 2023 by recording year-on-year growth of 5.2 percent.

“In setting the growth rate at around 5 percent, we have taken into account the need to boost employment and incomes and prevent and defuse risks,” Li said.

This growth rate is well aligned with the objectives of the 14th Five-Year Plan and the goal of basically realizing modernization. It also takes account of the potential for growth and the conditions supporting growth and reflects the requirement to pursue progress and strive to deliver, according to Li.

Han Baojiang, a professor with the Party School of the Communist Party of China Central Committee (National Academy of Governance) and a national political advisor, said the GDP growth objective is both “down-to-earth and uplifting” and shows that the government continues to emphasize the quality of growth.

Tian Xuan, vice dean with Tsinghua University’s PBC School of Finance and a national lawmaker, said the projected growth rate is in line with the availability of policy tools and the sustainability of economic development, leaving ample room for promoting the shift of growth drivers and coping with external uncertainties.

An aerial drone photo shows tourists visiting a scenic area of Linhai City, east China’s Zhejiang Province, Feb. 11, 2024. (Photo by Pan Kanjun/Xinhua)

AMPLE POLICY TOOLS

The report also noted multiple difficulties and challenges that the country is facing, such as an insufficiently solid foundation for sustained economic recovery and growth and a lack of effective demand.

“Achieving this year’s targets will not be easy, so we need to maintain policy focus, work harder, and mobilize the concerted efforts of all sides,” Li said.

A proactive fiscal policy and a prudent monetary policy will be continued in 2024, according to the report. An array of measures to boost growth this year have also been disclosed, including 3.9 trillion yuan of special-purpose bonds for local governments and the issuing of ultra-long special treasury bonds.

Meanwhile, the country will address both the symptoms and root causes to defuse risks in real estate, local government debt, and small and medium-sized financial institutions to safeguard overall economic and financial stability, the report said.

“China has a rather plentiful and flexible set of policy tools to maintain stable economic growth and cope with external headwinds,” said Zhuang Yumin, dean of the School of Finance with Renmin University of China and a national lawmaker, citing the country’s introduction of structural monetary and fiscal tools to offer targeted support for specific fields as an example.

The consistency of the macro policy orientation should be enhanced, the report stressed.

Robots weld bodyshells of cars at a workshop of Chinese electric vehicle (EV) maker Li Auto Inc. in Changzhou, east China’s Jiangsu Province, Jan. 10, 2024. (Xinhua/Ji Chunpeng)

GROWTH DRIVERS IN PLACE

To underpin the country’s high-quality development, the report has outlined major pro-growth steps to drive the economy.

China will launch a year-long program to stimulate consumption, and launch policies to promote digital, environmentally-friendly, and health-related consumption, the report said.

The report also revealed that China will increase effective investment. This year, 700 billion yuan will be earmarked in the central government budget for investment.

A series of tasks to modernize the industrial system and develop new quality productive forces at a faster pace are outlined in the report, including industrial and supply chain improvement and upgrade, and the cultivation of emerging industries and future-oriented industries such as hydrogen power, new materials, biomanufacturing, commercial spaceflight, quantum technology and life sciences.

China also plans to implement measures to ensure the national treatment for foreign-funded enterprises, vowing more efforts to attract foreign investment.

Jiang Ying, Deloitte China chair and a national political advisor, said China has a huge market and the country remains open-minded in seeking to continuously improve its business environment. “The Chinese economy offers plentiful opportunities, creating development space for all kinds of market players.”

(Source: Xinhuanet)