[QODLink]
Asia-Pacific
Chinese PM sets path for slower growth
Wen Jiabao targets 7.5 per cent growth, backed by greater social spending and measures to boost domestic consumption.
Last Modified: 05 Mar 2012 09:47
Wen called for more paid holidays and expanded consumer credit in moves intended to boost spending [Reuters]

China's prime minister has opened the 10-day annual session of the country's nominal state parliament by cutting projected growth for the country to 7.5 per cent and pledging increased government spending in an effort to increase domestic consumption.

Wen Jiabao told the National People's Congress (NPC) on Monday that his government would follow a "cautious but flexible" course in monetary policy in order to protect the country from financial risks.

Analysts had expected China's gross domestic product (GDP) to expand by a maximum of 8.5 per cent this year, continuing a downward trend from 10.4 per cent in 2010 to 9.2 per cent in 2011.

In the speech, Wen offered a range of increased assistance and social security programmes, including higher minimum wages, heftier subsidies for education and farmers, more loans for private businesses and added help for troubled exporters. He also called for more paid holidays for workers and expanded consumer credit.

The aim, Wen said, was to help China weather a shift as it looks for new engines of domestic growth while its main markets in Europe and the United States struggle and demand for jobs in China continues to increase.

"Internationally, the road to global economic recovery will be tortuous," Wen told the congress in the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.

"Domestically, it has become more urgent but also more difficult to solve institutional and structural problems and alleviate the problem of unbalanced, unco-ordinated and unsustainable development." 

He said the government would aim for more sustainable, energy-efficient development driven by domestic consumption.

While the annual gathering of congress is a largely procedural affair, this year's session is being watched with interest with older leaders such as Wen and Chinese President Hu Jintao expected to make way for a younger generation of Communist Party leaders.

Referring to recent anti-government protests and unrest in Tibet and the Uighur-majority province of Xinjiang, Wen called for social stability to be preserved.

"China is a unified multiethnic country," said Wen. "Only when its ethnic groups are united as one and work for the development of all can China achieve prosperity."

Li Zhaoxing, the congress' spokesman, on Sunday said China planned to increase its military budget for this year by another 11.2 per cent, following similar large increases in recent years.

Li defended the planned rise as a "reasonable and appropriate growth of defence spending."

He said China was committed to "peaceful development" and would "not in the least pose a threat to other countries."

Source:
DPA
Topics in this article
People
Country
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
An innovative rehabilitation programme offers Danish fighters in Syria an escape route and help without prosecution.
Street tension between radical Muslims and Holland's hard right rises, as Islamic State anxiety grows.
Take an immersive look at the challenges facing the war-torn country as US troops begin their withdrawal.
Ministers and MPs caught on camera sleeping through important speeches have sparked criticism that they are not working.
Featured
More than 400 gaming dens operate on native lands, but critics say social ills and inequality stack the deck.
The Palestinian president is expected to address the UN with a new proposal for the creation of a Palestinian state.
Nearly 1,200 aboriginal females have been killed or disappeared over 30 years with little justice served, critics say.
Ethnic violence has wracked China's restive Xinjiang region, leading to a tight government clampdown.
Malay artists revitalise the art of puppeteering by fusing tradition with modern characters such as Darth Vader.