China Expects its Huge Economy to Grow More Slowly This Year
The Chinese government on Monday announced an economic growth target of 6.5%. That's several notches below the 6.9% rate at which the world's second largest economy expanded last year, according to official figures, CNNreported.
The government's target for this year is in line with economists' forecasts. It was unveiled at the start of the National People's Congress, an annual gathering of Chinese lawmakers in Beijing.
Growth is expected to cool this year as the Chinese government ramps up efforts to cut risk in its financial system and close down inefficient, polluting factories.
Beijing actually gave a similar target for 2017 -- saying a year ago that it was aiming for growth "around 6.5% or higher if possible." It ended up comfortably beating the goal.
Many experts have questioned the accuracy of the government figures and the relevance of the growth target. Some economists use a range of other information sources -- like electricity output and freight shipments -- to generate independent estimates of how the Chinese economy is performing. Those gauges often don't tally with China's official data.
The growth target announced Monday is part of a broader "work report" delivered each year by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in which he provides other details about the government's plans and expectations for the country's huge economy.
The gathering of top Chinese leaders this week takes place against a backdrop of rising tensions over global trade. Last week, President Trump announced plans to impose tariffs of 25% on steel imports and 10% on aluminum imports, a move some experts fear could lead to a global trade war.
Major trading partners, including the European Union, have threatened to retaliate against US products they import if Trump goes ahead with the tariffs.
Beijing has so far given a cautious response to Trump's announcement.
China "does not want a trade war with the United States" but will "not sit idly by and watch China's interests being harmed," a senior Chinese official told reporters in Beijing on Sunday.
Zhang Yesui, a vice minister of foreign affairs, reiterated the Chinese government's view that "the common interests of both sides are far greater than their differences."
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