China seeks good start to year to help hit economic targets

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang speaks at the 44th Singapore Lecture in Singapore
FILE PHOTO: Chinese Premier Li Keqiang speaks at the 44th Singapore Lecture in Singapore, November 13, 2018. REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha

January 15, 2019

BEIJING (Reuters) – China is seeking a strong start to the economy in the first quarter to establish conditions favorable to achieving 2019’s major targets, state television reported on Monday, quoting Premier Li Keqiang.

Li did not give details of the targets, which will not be publicised until the annual parliament meeting in March.

Chinese leaders have turned more pro-growth and more stimulus measures are expected to support a slowing economy pinched by a trade war with the United Sates.

“We should strive for a good start in the first quarter to create conditions for completing the key full-year development targets and tasks,” State TV quoted Li as saying.

“Our country’s development environment is becoming more complex this year, there are more difficulties and challenges and the downward pressure on the economy is increasing,” he said.

The government aims to keep economic growth within a reasonable range by pushing forward reforms and opening up, refraining from a “flood-like stimulus”.

China had achieved key economic targets in 2018, which were “hard-won”, Li added.

Sources told Reuters last week that Beijing was planning to lower its growth target to 6-6.5 percent this year after an expected 6.6 percent in 2018, the slowest pace in 28 years.

(Reporting by Lusha Zhang and Kevin Yao; writing by Se Young Lee; Editing by Nick Macfie)

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