China aims for slower but better growth

China aims for slower but better growth
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang.

China is targeting economic growth of about 7 per cent for 2015, half a percentage point lower than last year, as the Asian powerhouse officially begins shifting focus to the quality, not speed, of economic development.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang declared Sunday after the country's annual National People's Congress session that China now will focus more on the quality and efficiency of the economy. He admitted that even the 7 per cent goal would be difficult to meet.

China's economy grew by double digits each year before the 2008 financial crisis, but its recent slowdown is fueling concerns worldwide. Beijing, though not forcing high levels of growth, also aims to avoid a rapid decline.

Li called for the development of new industries and technological innovations and expressed confidence that China could retain medium to high growth -- its "new normal" -- for a long time.

Authorities here are most worried about a slump in employment, which could lead to public unrest. They will consider fiscal and monetary options should a cooling economy quickly squeeze the job market.

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