China's defence budget less than major countries'

The International Monetary Fund in January raised its forecast for China's GDP growth from 6.5 to 6.6 per cent amid an upbeat outlook for the global recovery.

China said defence spending would increase at the quickest pace in three years, as president Xi Jinping pursues a "world-class" military capable of projecting force further from the country's coasts.

Premier Li Keqiang is now delivering his work report at the opening ceremony on Monday and the annual budget will also be released.

The above targets take into consideration the need to secure a decisive victory in building a moderately prosperous society in all respects, and are fitting given the fact that China's economy is transitioning from a phase of rapid growth to a stage of high-quality development, Li said.

The meeting was announced yesterday by Zhang Yesui, spokesman for China's legislature and former ambassador to the USA, with no details regarding dates or attendees provided. Meanwhile, Li said China's basic pension has covered more than 900 million people and healthcare insurance covered 1.35 billion as China created "the world's largest social welfare network".

Reinforcing views that Beijing's attention remains firmly fixed on credit risks and better quality growth, when Li unveiled the GDP target he omitted previous wording saying growth could be "higher if possible".

Local government debt grew 7.5% percent past year to $2.6 trillion, according to figures in January.

By the end of the two-week session, the new line-up of top government leaders will be endorsed by the NPC delegates, with former anti-corruption tsar Wang Qishan expected to take up the post of vice-president.

Steel producers in Canada, Brazil, Mexico, South Korea and Turkey rely far more heavily on the U.S. market. Li said China has successfully managed economic downward pressure and avoided an economic "hard landing".

She said she hopes for new concrete policies including more investment in environmental protection.

The Chinese economy outperformed its annual growth target by expanding 6.9 percent last year, picking up for the first time in seven years.

Despite the lower deficit ratio, the absolute amount of the deficit is expected to remain unchanged at 2.38 trillion yuan ($376 billion), according to the finance ministry's annual budget report.

While the central bank has been gingerly raising money market rates to discourage riskier lending practices, it has also kept markets well supplied with funds when there are worries of a deeper cash squeeze, and bank lending hit a fresh record a year ago. ANZ had expected both targets to be set at 10 percent or lower this year.

Mr Trump's announcement came as President Xi Jinping's top economic aide, Mr Liu He, met United States officials at the White House.

The slide toward one-man rule under Xi, already China's most dominant figure of recent decades, has fueled concern Beijing is eroding efforts to guard against the excesses of autocratic leadership and make economic regulation more stable and predictable.

  • Joey Payne