China Focus: Premier says GDP target flexible, stresses employment
                 English.news.cn | 2014-03-13 14:02:28 | Editor: Lu Hui

BEIJING, March 13 (Xinhua) -- Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Thursday said there is a level of flexibility for the government's growth target at around 7.5 percent this year, stressing rather the importance of creating enough jobs.

"We are not preoccupied with GDP growth," Li stressed when asked on the lowest growth rate that the government can live with at a press conference following the conclusion of the annual legislative session.

"The growth that we want is one that brings real benefits to the people, helps raise the quality and efficiency of economic development, and contributes to energy conservation and environment protection," he said.

Li's elaboration came after the government announced last week that the country will target an unchanged growth of around 7.5 percent in 2014.

It also vowed to keep inflation at around 3.5 percent and create 10 million more urban jobs to ensure the registered urban unemployment rate does not rise above 4.6 percent.

At the conference, Li underscored the importance of a proper growth to deliver enough urban jobs while leaving room for the six to seven million migrant workers to seek employment in cities.

China's economy grew 7.7 percent last year, well above the government goal, but a set of data that pointed to softening manufacturing activity in recent months has renewed concerns on the growth outlook of the world's second largest economy.

In response to the concerns, Li emphasized that China's economy has "tremendous potential and resilience", and the country has the ability and conditions to keep its economic operation within a proper range.

The premier noted a spate of complex challenges for this year, including enhancing the quality and efficiency of economic development, tackling pollution and saving energy.

"So we need to strike a proper balance amidst all these goals and objectives. This is not going to be easy," Li acknowledged.

"We need to face up to the difficulties and challenges and make the most of the favorable conditions. This holds the secret of our success," he said, citing a Chinese proverb that "only a sharpened axe can cut through firewood."

Although China's 7.5 percent growth target is the same as previous years, its importance is fading as many believe the government will no longer view the figure as the necessary minimum as it usually did in the past.

Senior leaders and officials have on various occasions backed up the macro-economic control strategy featuring the idea of "a proper range," -- a lower limit to ensure steady growth and job creation and an upper limit to avert inflation, which was first proposed by Li in July.

Finance minister Lou Jiwei joined the chorus last Thursday, calling for more comprehensive understanding on the country's growth target instead of merely fixating on the 7.5-percent figure.

GDP growth, inflation and employment are all key factors that should be taken into consideration when assessing economic conditions, Lou told a press conference, adding that a growth of 7.3 percent or 7.2 percent can still be counted within that range.

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