Mar. 5 - Beijing trims long-held growth target to provide space for economic and welfare reforms. Arnold Gay reports.
EDITOTRS PLEASE NOTE, THIS EDIT CONTAINS CONVERTED 4:3 MATERIAL It was widely anticipated move, to provide breathing room for Beijing ahead of a leadership transition. Speaking to thousands of delegates from the National People's Congress (NPC), Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao cut China's growth target from a long-held annual target of eight percent, and shifted to rebalancing the economy, and keeping prices down. (SOUNDBITE) (Mandarin) CHINESE PREMIER WEN JIABAO SAYING: "The main targets for this year's economic and social development are as follows: to increase GDP by 7.5 percent, create more than 9 million new jobs in rural and urban areas, keep the registered urban unemployment rate at or below 4.6 percent, hold rises of the CPI around 4 percent, increase the volume of total exports and imports by around 10 percent, and continue to improve our international balance of payments." Wen says a key goal is to encourage more domestic consumption, and the government will address the uneven income distribution that discourages hundreds of millions of ordinary farmers and migrant workers from spending. The Communist Party also wants to wean the economy off its present dependence on exports, smoke-stack industries and government-backed infrastructure. Wen says China will stay engaged in the global community (SOUNDBITE) (Mandarin) CHINESE PREMIER WEN JIABAO SAYING: "We will strive to maintain steady growth of China's economic and trade relations with developed countries and comprehensively deepen mutually beneficial cooperation with developing countries. We will continue to promote development of free trade zones and regional economic integration. We will actively participate in building mechanisms for global economic governance such as the G20, strengthen coordination with major economies on macroeconomic policy, oppose protectionism in all forms, and continue to play a constructive role the Doha Round of trade talks and the reform of the international financial system." The Chinese premier and President Hu Jintao are near the end of a decade in power, which saw China steam through the global financial crisis unscathed, and grow into the world's second-biggest economy after the United States. But when they hand over power in late autumn, China could be headed for its slowest full-year of growth since both men took office. The Communist Party will install a new cohort of leaders by the end of 2012, and Wen and Hu will step down at the national parliament session early next year. Arnold Gay, Reuters.