The meeting kicked off Sunday morning, a key political event that promises a shakeup at the top echelons of government that could further consolidate President Xi Jinping’s power. Other major 2023 economic targets announced by Li, who is set to be replaced by Xi ally Li Qiang, are as follows:
While last year’s actual GDP growth of 3% missed the official goal by a wide margin, hopes are high that the reopening will boost growth and investor confidence in the world’s second-largest economy.
At a media briefing on Saturday that coincided with the opening of the CPPCC, China’s top political advisory body, NPC spokesman Wang Chao announced that the legislative session will close on the morning of March 13, making it slightly longer than last year’s pandemic-shortened event.
China Defense Spending to Rise 7.2%
China said its defense spending would grow by 7.2% this year — the fastest pace since 2019 amid increasing tensions with the US on a range of issues, including Taiwan.
Military expenditure is expected to rise to 1.55 trillion yuan ($225 billion) in 2023, according the Ministry of Finance’s annual report released Sunday at the start of the National People’s Congress in Beijing.
Spending on the People’s Liberation Army has increased by at least 6.6% each year for the past three decades, keeping pace or often exceeding economic growth, although the figure is far surpassed by the US’s military expenditures.
China Vows to Rein in ‘Unregulated’ Expansion in Property Market
China said it will target disorderly expansion in the property sector, as policy makers seek to strike a balance between boosting economic growth and defusing financial risks.
Efforts should be made to prevent “unregulated” expansion in the property market to promote its stable development, Premier Li Keqiang said at the annual session of the National People’s Congress — the Communist Party-controlled parliament.
The government also pledged to ensure “effective risk prevention and mitigation” in leading high-quality developers and help shore up their balance sheets, Li said.
China Vows to Control Fossil Fuels
China, the world’s top clean energy market, will aim to “move faster to develop a new energy system,” and plans to prioritize efforts to control fossil fuel consumption, according to a government work report.
Development targets for this year include “continued reductions in energy consumption per unit of GDP and in the discharge of major pollutants,” the document said.
“We leveraged the role of coal as a major source of energy, increased advanced coal production capacity and stepped up support for power plants and heat-supply enterprises to ensure energy supplies,” the report said.
China Aims to Increase Grain Output
China plans to increase grain production to more than 650 million tons this year, according to a government work report. The country also aims to keep grain acreage at stable level and promote production of oilseed crops, the report said.
China Sets Modest Growth Target as Economic Risks Persist
China set a modest economic growth target for the year, a sign the nation’s top leaders are still concerned about the country’s recovery, given weak consumer confidence, declining exports and a housing market still under pressure.
Beijing will target gross domestic product expansion of around 5% for 2023, Premier Li Keqiang said in his final government work report to the National People’s Congress — the annual parliamentary gathering — on Sunday, according to state media Xinhua News Agency. The budget deficit goal was set at 3% of GDP for 2023, Xinhua said.
The GDP target compares to last year’s goal of around 5.5%, which China missed by a large margin after Covid outbreaks and restrictions, along with the property crisis dragged GDP growth to just 3%.
Wang Yang Delivers Opening Speech at CPPCC
During a speech delivered at the opening ceremony of the CPPCC, Wang Yang, chairman of the political advisory body and a former vice premier, said the CPPCC has worked to unify Chinese within the country and overseas over the past five years. The CPPCC has strengthened communications with groups in Taiwan and encouraged Hong Kong delegates to speak out on issues including the drafting and implementation of the national security law, he said, adding that it will continue to unify all groups tightly around the Communist Party.
China Defends Military Budget
China needs to increase its military budget to meet “complex security challenges,” a top Chinese official said, amid rising geopolitical tensions with the US.
“The increase in defense spending is needed for meeting the complex security challenges and for China to fulfill its responsibilities as a major country,” said Wang Chao, spokesman of the National People’s Congress, the country’s top legislative body. He spoke at a press conference in Beijing on Saturday, a day before the official kickoff of the key political event.
China’s defense outlays have come under the spotlight amid increasing friction with the US over technology and the war in Ukraine, as well as Beijing’s claims to a wide swath of the South China Sea. There have also been concerns over a potential military clash between the superpowers over Taiwan.
Geely and Xiaomi Chiefs Speak
Li Shufu, founder of Chinese carmaker Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co., said China’s new energy vehicle industry — the world’s largest by output and sales — is developing in a sustainable way through increasing recycling of components like lithium batteries. The government’s policy incentives such as purchase tax breaks have helped the industry and its supply chain keep achieving technological breakthroughs, Li, a delegate to the CPPCC, told reporters on the sidelines of the meeting.
He called on the government to take measures to revitalize domestic carbon trading by introducing more products to the market and bringing in more participants, according to a local media report.
Lei Jun, chairman of Xiaomi Corp., a smartphone and home appliance maker that has ventured into EV manufacturing, is submitting proposals to the NPC on improving the regulation of car-related data and promoting a “car culture” that encourage the growth of China’s auto industry. Lei, an NPC representative, also proposed to push for the development of biorobotics, according to his post on Weibo, a Twitter-like social media platform.