China Maintains 2018 GDP Growth Target

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"Poverty alleviation efforts will be carried on through the development of local industries, education, and healthcare", Premier Li said while delivering a government work report at the 13th National People's Congress (NPC), China's top legislature, which is underway.

China maintained its growth target for 2018, despite the economy surpassing the goal previous year, as the government aims to contain corporate debt and rein in pollution.

Despite slowing growth in its once-meteoric defense spending, China is preparing to launch its second aircraft carrier, integrating cutting-edge stealth fighters into its air force and fielding a dizzying array of advanced missiles able to attack air and sea targets at vast distances.

President Donald Trump announced last Thursday he would impose hefty tariffs on imported steel and aluminium to protect United States producers, risking retaliation from major trade partners like China, Europe and neighboring Canada and sparking fears of a global trade war.

"China calls for trade disputes to be settled through discussions as equals, opposes trade protectionism, and will resolutely safeguard its lawful rights", Mr Li said.

The government set the budget deficit target of 2.6% of GDP for 2018 compared to 3% in 2017.

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"We saw above-target fiscal spending and revenue in 2017".

Of particular note was the government's announcement that it's now targeting a budget deficit of 2.6% of GDP, significantly below forecasts of 2.9% and down from a target of 3% at the same time a year ago.

Li said China will keep its prudent monetary policy neutral and will ensure reasonable liquidity.

The economy achieved a faster growth of 6.9% in 2017.

Stability will be the watchword this year as President Xi Jinping pursues his vision of turning China into a "modestly prosperous" nation by 2020 and into a "strong power" on the world stage by 2050.

The announcement was made Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in an address to the National People's Congress.