China Sets Economic Growth Target of ‘Over 6 Percent’ This Year

BEIJING — The Chinese government on Friday set a target of “over 6 percent” economic growth this year, a signal that China is ready to do what it takes to keep the world’s second-largest economy running strongly.

The commitment is a positive sign for the global economy. It suggests that Beijing is willing to free up money to keep its economy humming rather than slowing down to address its ever-rising tide of debt. That means the Chinese economy will continue to buy much of what the world makes, including iron ore and computer chips.

China’s growth target comes as the pandemic has been all but halted within its borders, and as the number of the cases has fallen steeply in recent weeks in countries like the United States to India.

China’s target for this year may be easy to achieve. It is well below what many Western economists expect for the Chinese economy to realize. They have been forecasting an expansion of about 8 percent, as exports of manufactured goods continue to boom while the service sector rebounds from a very weak performance last year.

China’s premier, Li Keqiang, released the goal as he delivered a report on the government’s work to the legislature, the National People’s Congress, at the start of its weeklong annual gathering.

“As the coronavirus continues to spread around the world, instability and uncertainty are mounting on the international landscape, and the global economy continues to face grave challenges,” Mr. Li said.

“Domestically, there are still weak links in our work to control Covid-19,” he added. “The foundation for achieving our country’s economic recovery needs to be further consolidated, impediments to consumer spending remain, and investment growth lacks sustainability.”

The forecast indicates that China expects a striking bounce-back after last year, when the uncertainties of the pandemic led the government to abandon setting an annual growth target for the first time in decades. Ultimately, China recorded growth of 2.3 percent in 2020, much slower than the usual pace of 6 percent or higher in recent years, but by far the best performance of any major economy.

The congress is also poised to deepen China’s clampdown in Hong Kong, building on a national security law that went into effect last year. This year, the delegates are set to approve proposals that will drastically shrink democratic competition in local elections in the former British colony.

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