China Downgrades Economic Growth Target

Against the political pageantry of the National People's Congress, China's Premier delivered his annual state-of-the-nation address. The headline figure: a growth target of 7.5 percent. It's the first time that's dipped below 8 percent since 2004.

Copyright © 2012 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Now just as the U.S. economy seems to be picking up, China's is not. The Chinese government has downgraded its economic growth target to the slowest rate in eight years. China's premier says the country needs to boost consumer demand, and address what he calls unsustainable development.

NPR's Louisa Lim reports from Beijing.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

LOUISA LIM, BYLINE: Against the political pageantry of the National People's Congress, China's premier delivered his annual state-of-the-nation address. The headline figure: a growth target of 7.5 percent. It's the first time that's dipped below eight percent since 2004.

A note of caution was clear in Premier Wen Jiabao's speech.

PREMIER WEN JIABAO: (Through Translator) China's economy is encountering new problems. There is downward pressure on economic growth. Prices remain high.

LIM: The quality of growth – rather than the quantity – is coming to the fore. Jeff Wasserstrom, the author of "China in the 21st Century," describes the shift in focus.

JEFF WASSERSTROM: There's been more emphasis recently, I think, on focusing on the ability to deliver stability. The emphasis on stability was often paired with an emphasis on deliver wow-factor developments, whether it was high growth rates or the fastest trains on earth. And I think in the last year, or so, we have seen some ways in which these symbols of hypermodernity have lost some of their luster.

LIM: This year sees spending on domestic security rise by 11.5 percent; a bigger rise than that of the defense budget. This could indicate fears of instability, ahead of a change in China's leadership later this year.

Louisa Lim, NPR News, Beijing.

Copyright © 2012 NPR. All rights reserved. No quotes from the materials contained herein may be used in any media without attribution to NPR. This transcript is provided for personal, noncommercial use only, pursuant to our Terms of Use. Any other use requires NPR's prior permission. Visit our permissions page for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

Support comes from: