China predicts 5% growth for 2023, budgets $224 billion for defense

Beijing: China on Sunday pegged its growth target for 2023 at “around 5%” as the pandemic-hit economy looks to bounce back from three years of Covid-19 restrictions that put millions of people under perpetual lockdown, slowing consumption. and pushed down the development of the country. 3% last year, its slowest in decades.

Outgoing premier Li Keqiang announced the goal in a speech to open the annual session of China’s parliament, the National People’s Congress (NPC), saying: “We must prioritize the recovery and expansion of consumption.”

“China’s economy is making steady reforms and is demonstrating enormous potential and momentum for further growth,” Li said in his address to nearly 3,000 delegates at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing. “

More than 12 million jobs were added in 2022, the jobs report said, with the urban unemployment rate falling to 5.5%.

President Xi Jinping, who is set for a third presidential term, attended the session along with China’s top leadership.

At the end of the eight-day NPC, Li will complete his decade as the country’s premier, who was in charge of the economy.

China’s GDP growth forecast for 2023 is in particular focus as the country emerges from draconian “zero-covid” measures that were lifted in December.

Observers say China’s annual growth target is closely monitored and scrutinized because the legitimacy of China’s ruling and authoritarian Communist Party (CPC) is based on providing steady economic growth and social stability.

defense budget

China also unveiled its annual military budget for 2023, which will increase by 7.2% to about 1.55 trillion yuan ($224 billion), the allocation as a measure of Beijing’s growing military ambitions globally as well as in India. closely tracked by neighbors.

This is the third time that China’s official defense outlay has crossed the $200 billion mark, a first in 2021, amid rising geopolitical tensions and China’s growing military belligerence in Taiwan and the South China Sea region.

Analysts told Chinese state media that the defense budget “offers a reasonable and restrained boost amid military spending by many other countries around the world in light of global security tensions”.

The work report states, “The armed forces should intensify military training and preparedness across the board, develop new military strategic guidance, devote more energy to training in combat conditions, and strengthen military training across all directions and domains.” Coordinated efforts should be made to strengthen the work.”

Experts say that China’s defense budget is much higher than the officially declared budget: the country already has the world’s largest standing army and navy.

Reading the work report, Premier Li said that China should remain “committed to an independent foreign policy of peace” without mentioning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which China has not yet condemned.

On Taiwan, a self-governing democracy Beijing claims is part of its territory, the working report reiterated Beijing’s stance against the island’s “independence”.

The work report called for “resolute measures to oppose ‘Taiwan independence'” while sticking to Beijing’s call for “peaceful reunification”.

“While overcoming great difficulties and challenges, China managed to maintain overall stable economic performance, and was generally able to meet the main goals and tasks for the year,” the report said. For the tremendous resilience of China’s economy.

“The report reviewed government work over the past year in a number of areas, including efforts to effectively coordinate the COVID-19 response with economic and social development and new pressures on the economy,” the official news agency said. Decisive and timely macro regulation to be tackled.” Xinhua said in a report.

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