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China’s Premier Li Keqiang sets out economic goals


CHINA’S Premier Li Keqiang unveiled a lower growth target and pledged tighter environmental controls as he opened parliament’s annual session.

Addressing the National People’s Congress (NPC), Mr Li said China would target growth of around 7% in 2015.

With traditional drivers of growth weakening, more structural reform was needed going forward, he said.

Describing pollution as a “blight” on quality of life, he said environmental laws would be strictly enforced.

Some 3,000 legislators from across China convene for the annual legislative session at Beijing’s Great Hall of the People.

China describes the NPC as the country’s “supreme organ of state power”. It has the power to enact and amend legislation. In practice, it is generally considered a rubber stamp for the ruling Communist Party.

The premier’s work report traditionally opens the session, which ends on 15 March.

Every year, the Chinese premier’s annual work report skims a wide variety of topics. The speech is supposed to function as a grand overview of the government’s triumphs and failures in the past year, while also signalling Beijing’s future priorities.

This year showed a narrowed focus on two major topics: the economy and the environment.

Thirty pages of Li Keqiang’s 38-page speech were devoted to the slowing economy. He used the now-ubiquitous phrase the “new normal” to reassure his audience that a lower GDP forecast of 7% was natural and would be in place for a few years.

But the most heartfelt language focused on environmental pollution, an issue that Li Keqiang acknowledged was “a blight on people’s quality of life and a trouble that weighs on their hearts”. A long list of promises followed, from forest protection to the promotion of electric vehicles.

On both issues, Mr Li attempted to strike the same tone: he wanted to appear in touch with problems on the ground and the frustrations of the Chinese people, while reassuring the public that his government knows how to tackle the problems.

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