China will have to fight to reach its growth target, warns the Prime Minister

China will have to fight to reach its growth target, warns the Prime Minister

UPDATE DAY

China's new premier, Li Qiang, warned on Monday that it would be difficult for his country to meet its “around 5%” growth target this year, already one of the highest weak for decades. 

“Achieving a growth target of around 5% will not be easy, I fear, and will take a lot of effort,” he told his first press conference since becoming prime minister on Saturday. .

This pace of GDP growth, which would make many the envy of most major economies, would nonetheless be one of the weakest in 40 years for the Asian giant.

Li Qiang, in charge of economic issues, warned of “new challenges” for growth, while relativizing the importance of GDP in the daily life of the population.

China saw its gross domestic product grow by 3% in 2022, far from the initial target of 5.5%, at a time when health restrictions and the real estate crisis weighed heavily on activity.

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The country has followed a strict “zero COVID” health policy for nearly three years, which has allowed the population to be largely protected from COVID-19 but has dealt a severe blow to the economy .

These measures were finally lifted in December.

Growth in China is also being penalized by a crisis in real estate, a sector which, together with construction, accounts for more than a quarter of its GDP, and consumption which is struggling to pick up again.

De great things”

Li Qiang also denounced the “encirclement” and “repression” of his country by the United States, in a context of heightened tensions with the world's leading power. .

“China and the United States can and should cooperate. If we cooperate, we can achieve great things,” said Mr. Li.

A week ago, Chinese President Xi Jinping also spoke in these terms about geopolitical tensions with Washington, during of a parliamentary session in Beijing.

China and the United States are engaged in a fierce battle for the manufacture of semiconductors, these electronic components essential to the operation of smartphones, connected cars but also military equipment.

In the name of national security, Washington has increased sanctions against Chinese chipmakers in recent months.

The two powers also oppose each other on other issues, such as Taiwan, the treatment of Uyghur Muslims, trade or Hong Kong.

Amid tensions with Washington, Xi Jinping again stressed on Monday the need to strengthen national security.

“Security is the foundation of development, while stability is a prerequisite for prosperity,” Xi said in his first speech since being reappointed as China's leader on Friday.

Great Wall of Steel”

To this end, it is necessary to “fully promote the modernization of national defense and the armed forces, and make [the army] a Great Wall of Steel that effectively protects national sovereignty, security and the interests of the development,” insisted Xi Jinping in a speech at the close of the annual session of Parliament.

The Chinese president also castigated the “external forces” who interfere in the Taiwanese file.< /p>

The communist power considers the island as a province of China that it has not yet succeeded in attaching to the rest of the territory since the end of the Chinese civil war (1949).

China sees with dissatisfaction the rapprochement at work in recent years between the Taiwanese authorities and the United States, which has provided the island with military support against Beijing for several decades.

The only candidate, Xi Jinping, obtained a new five-year term as Chinese president on Friday. s, after a unanimous vote in parliament, the culmination of a rise that has seen him become the country's most powerful leader for generations.

Aged 69, he had already obtained in October a five-year extension at the top of the CCP and the military commission of the Party, the two most important positions of power in China.