The meeting opened on Sunday morning, a major political event that promises a shakeup at the top of the government that could further consolidate President Xi Jinping’s power. Other key economic targets for 2023 announced by Li, who will be replaced by Xi ally Li Qiang, are as follows:
While last year’s actual GDP growth of 3% fell well short of the official target, hopes are high that the reopening will boost growth and investor confidence in the world’s second-largest economy.
Speaking at a press briefing on Saturday to coincide with the opening of the CPPCC, China’s top political advisory body, NPC spokesperson said 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.
Chinese defense spending up 7.2%
China said its defense spending would grow 7.2% this year – the fastest pace since 2019 amid rising tensions with the US over a range of issues, including Taiwan.
Military spending is expected to rise to 1.55 trillion yuan ($225 billion) by 2023, according to the Treasury Ministry’s annual report released Sunday at the start of the National People’s Congress in Beijing.
Spending on the People’s Liberation Army has grown at least 6.6% annually over the past three decades, keeping pace with or often exceeding economic growth, though the figure is far surpassed by US military spending.
China vows to rein in the ‘unregulated’ expansion of the real estate market
China said it will focus on disorderly expansion in the real estate sector as policymakers try to strike a balance between boosting economic growth and defusing financial risk.
Efforts should be made to prevent “unregulated” expansion in the real estate 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” among high-quality leading developers and to help strengthen their balance sheets, Li said.
China vows to control fossil fuels
China, the world’s largest clean energy market, will aim to “accelerate development of a new energy system” and prioritize efforts to control fossil fuel consumption, according to a government work report.
Development goals for this year include “continued reductions in energy consumption per unit of GDP and in emissions of major pollutants,” the document said.
“We have capitalized on the role of coal as a major source of energy, increased advanced coal production capacity, and stepped up support for power plants and heat utility companies to ensure energy security,” the report said.
China wants to increase grain production
China plans to increase grain production to more than 650 million tons this year, according to a government work report. The country is also aiming to maintain a stable level of cereal crops and promote oil crop production, the report said.
China sets a modest growth target while economic risks persist
China set a modest economic growth target for the year, a sign that the country’s top leaders are still concerned about the country’s recovery given weak consumer confidence, declining exports and a housing market that remains under pressure.
According to the state media Xinhua News Agency, Beijing will aim for gross domestic product growth of about 5% for 2023, Prime Minister Li Keqiang said in his latest government work report to the National People’s Congress – the annual parliamentary meeting – on Sunday. The budget deficit target was set at 3% of GDP for 2023, Xinhua said.
The GDP target is similar to last year’s target of around 5.5%, which China narrowly missed following Covid outbreaks and restrictions, along with the real estate crisis dragging GDP growth to just 3%.
Wang Yang gives opening speech at CPPCC
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the CPPCC, Wang Yang, chairman of the political advisory body and former deputy prime minister, said the CPPCC has been working to unite Chinese people at home and abroad for the past five years. The CPPCC has strengthened communication with groups in Taiwan and encouraged Hong Kong delegates to speak out on issues such as the drafting and implementation of the national security law, he said, adding that it will continue to unite all groups tightly around the Communist Party.
China defends military budget
China must 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 necessary to meet complex security challenges and for China to fulfill its responsibilities as a great country,” said Wang Chao, spokesman for the National People’s Congress, the country’s highest legislative body. He spoke at a press conference in Beijing on Saturday, a day before the official kick-off of the main political event.
China’s defense spending has come under the spotlight amid growing friction with the US over technology and the war in Ukraine, as well as Beijing’s claims to a large swath of the South China Sea. There are also concerns about a possible military clash between the great powers over Taiwan.
Geely and Xiaomi Chiefs speak
Li Shufu, founder of Chinese automaker Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co., said China’s new energy vehicle industry – the world’s largest in terms of output and sales – is developing in a sustainable way through increasing recycling of components such as lithium batteries. The government’s policy incentives, such as tax incentives for purchases, have helped the industry and its supply chain continue to make technological breakthroughs, Li, a CPPCC delegate, told reporters on the sidelines of the meeting.
He called on the government to take steps to revive domestic carbon trading by bringing more products to market and attracting more participants, according to a local media report.
Lei Jun, chairman of Xiaomi Corp., a manufacturer of smartphones and home appliances that has ventured into electric vehicle production, submits proposals to the NPC on how to improve the regulation of car-related data and promote a “car culture” representing the growth of China’s auto industry. Lei, an NPC representative, also suggested pushing for the development of biorobotics, according to his post on Weibo, a Twitter-like social media platform.