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Monday, November 2, 2015, 17:32

Li sees 6.5% growth through 2020

By Agencies

Li sees 6.5% growth through 2020
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang speaks during a news conference after a trilateral summit at the Presidential Blue House in Seoul, South Korea, Nov 1, 2015. (Kim Hong-Ji / Pool Photo via AP)

BEIJING - China expects to achieve annual economic growth of "at least 6.5 percent" through 2020, Premier Premier Li Keqiang said, in the first hint of a growth target since a high-level planning meeting last week.

China's government is trying to steer the economy to more sustainable growth based on domestic consumption instead of trade and investment but needs to avoid it weakening too much. Growth last year fell to a two-decade low of 7.4 percent.

"We propose to achieve the goal of creating a 'moderately prosperous society' by 2020, which requires annual economic growth of at least 6.5 percent over the next five years," said Premier Li Keqiang in a speech Sunday in Seoul, according to a transcript released by the Cabinet.

Following a meeting to approve a five-year development plan, party leaders pledged last week to double the size of the economy from the 2010 level by 2020. That would require annual growth of at least 6.5 percent, which could conflict with reform efforts.

This year's growth target is "about 7 percent," though Li and other officials have tried to downplay the significance of that. Li said earlier he would accept slower growth so long as the economy generates enough new jobs.

Economic growth in the quarter ending in September slowed to 6.9 percent but some analysts say industrial activity might be rebounding.

Much of China's economic slowdown over the past five years has been self-imposed but a deepening downturn over the past year has prompted concern about job losses and unrest. Beijing has cut interest rates six times since last November.

Li said the economy is functioning in a "reasonable range" and employment is growing, according to the transcript.

"We have the confidence and ability to fulfill this year's main targets," the premier said.

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