• • China’s Premier Li Keqiang declared on Friday that the world’s second-largest economy will aim for a growth rate of over 6% in 2021.
  • • The premier spoke in a generally upbeat tone about China’s economic recovery from the pandemic, but he did point out certain flaws, such as “impediments” to consumer spending.
  • • Li also spoke about China’s aspirations for its partnership with the United States and other international trade agreements.

BEIJING (Xinhua) — China has set a growth goal of over 6% for 2021, according to Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, who made the announcement at the country’s most significant political event of the year, the annual parliamentary conference.

Such expansion will start from a low point.

China was the only global economy to rise by 2.3 percent last year, despite the coronavirus pandemic. The accuracy of the country’s official economic statistics is often questioned.

In a government work report presented at the National People’s Congress opening ceremony, Li announced the growth target. The meeting is part of Beijing’s annual parliamentary gathering, known as “Two Sessions,” which sets the country’s economic and political goals for 2021.

The premier spoke in a generally upbeat tone about China’s economic recovery from the pandemic, but he did point out some flaws, such as “impediments” to consumer spending, difficult conditions for small businesses, and mounting pressure to keep jobs secure.

Li stated that China aimed for a 5.5 percent urban unemployment rate in 2021, as well as the development of more than 11 million new urban jobs, which is the same as in 2019 and up from 9 million last year.

China would also target for a 3% rise in the consumer price index, which is an indicator of inflation, according to Li.

According to Li, one of the year’s major goals was to strengthen science and technology growth, Li said. He noted that “in forestalling and defusing risks in the financial sector and other areas, we face formidable tasks.”

Ties between the United States and China

He didn’t go into detail, but he did say that China would work to speed up free trade talks with Japan and South Korea, as well as seriously consider joining the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership.

The CPTPP trade agreement was formerly known as the Trans-Pacific Partnership, from which former President Donald Trump immediately removed the United States upon taking office in 2017. It’s unclear if President Joe Biden’s administration would press for the United States to re-enter the agreement.

Tensions between China and the United States have risen in recent years, moving beyond trade to include issues such as technology and the roots of Covid-19.

Li said Friday in prepared remarks that China’s control of Covid-19 still had “bad ties,” but that the economy had recovered sufficiently.

Taiwan and Hong Kong

Li stated that the country will “resolutely deter” any separatist activity aimed at achieving Taiwan’s independence while remaining committed to peaceful reunification with the region, which Beijing regards as a breakaway province.

He also mentioned that the central government would “improve related structures and mechanisms” in Hong Kong and Macao, which are semi-autonomous regions.

Consideration of a draught for reforming Hong Kong’s electoral structure is one of the items on the agenda for this year’s National People’s Congress. In recent weeks, top officials have spoken publicly about how Hong Kong’s electoral structure should be modified to ensure that only backers of the central government oversee the semi-autonomous zone.

President Xi Jinping abolished term limits in 2018 and proposed a new protection law for Hong Kong last year, all of which were overseen by the annual Two Sessions meeting.

This year, the otherwise symbolic meeting takes on added importance as it marks the start of China’s 14th five-year development plan, the country’s longest in history. It is also the ruling Communist Party’s 100th anniversary.

The Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference, a political advisory body, held its opening ceremony on Thursday. On Friday, the National People’s Congress legislature convened for its annual meeting. The two meetings are expected to conclude by the end of next week.

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