China has set its GDP growth target for this year at around 5%, slightly lower than last year’s target of 5.5%, as revealed at the opening ceremony of the National People’s Congress (NPC) annual meeting. The Chinese government also aims to create about 12 million urban jobs in 2023, up from last year’s target of 11 million. Prime Minister Li Keqiang emphasized the need for economic stability in his report, and set a budget deficit target of 3% of GDP in 2023, wider than last year’s target of 2.8%.
The slower GDP growth rate can be attributed to various reasons such as the COVID-19 crisis, the decline in Chinese exports, and the crackdown on private businesses, among others. China’s parliament will undergo a significant reshuffle, with reform-focused economic policy officials retiring and President Xi Jinping’s loyalists taking their place. The NPC meeting will discuss President Xi’s plans for restructuring the state and Communist Party bodies, giving the communists more control of the government.
The NPC meeting, which ends on March 13, marks the first meeting since China abandoned its zero-COVID-19 policy in December following nationwide protests. The meeting began in Beijing amid tight security and heavy smog, with 2,948 delegates gathered at the Great Hall of the People. The new GDP growth target of about 5% is expected to bring about further changes to China’s economy and government.