People’s Congress opens: China wants five percent economic growth

Status: 05.03.2023 06:25 a.m

The National People’s Congress has opened in Beijing. At the beginning, Premier Li Keqiang presented his work report: The leadership expects economic growth of around five percent.

By Benjamin Eyssel, ARD Studio Beijing

The goal of the communist government is for China’s economy to grow by about five percent this year. Premier Li Keqiang tried to spread optimism. China will create 12 million new urban jobs and reduce unemployment this year, according to its labor report. Domestic demand is to be increased.

The goal of five percent growth is comparatively modest for the People’s Republic, which has had double-digit growth rates for decades. But the economy is deep in crisis. Last year, China reported economic growth of just three percent, falling well short of the annual target of 5.5 percent.

Almost three years of a zero-Covid policy with tough lockdowns and largely closed borders have left their mark – as has the unprepared end of these measures in December. Prime Minister Li Keqiang spoke of problems and challenges due to Covid, but he did not address the sometimes chaotic conditions and the many deaths after the virus spread unchecked. Instead, he praised the Communist Party’s leadership in fighting the pandemic.

China plans higher military spending

Li Keqiang also called for the strengthening of the armed forces, which should strengthen their combat readiness and enhance their military capabilities. According to the draft budget, China plans to increase its military spending by 7.2 percent this year.

The increase in military spending is viewed with international concern. Among other things, because the communist government in Taiwan regularly threatens war. The state and party leadership regards the democratically governed island as a separate part of the country. In his speech, the prime minister again called for unification with Taiwan.

Third term of Xi Jinping ahead of confirmation

Li Keqiang, 67, will retire after the People’s Congress. He is to be replaced by former Shanghai party leader and Xi Jinping confidante Li Qiang. Secretary General Xi Jinping himself wants to be confirmed at the National People’s Congress for a third term as head of state. The basis for this was created last year by the party congress of the Communist Party.

The approximately 3,000 delegates who are not democratically legitimized will meet for around a week from today. They usually agree to whatever the communist state and party leadership puts in front of them.

People’s Congress opens: China’s economy is to grow by 5 percent

Benjamin Eyssel, ARD Beijing, March 5, 2023 6:00 a.m

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