No target to double China GDP from 2021

Emphasis on quality of growth than economic expansion

BEIJING China will not set a target to double gross domestic product (GDP) from 2021, a senior Communist Party official said yesterday, as top leaders pledged to focus on better quality economic growth in the long-term.

Mr Yang Weimin, vice-minister of the Office of the Central Leading Group on Financial and Economic Affairs, told a news conference that the government will not solely pursue economic expansion and will emphasise the quality of its growth.

A shift away from ambitious long-term government growth targets would be a departure from past practice in China and mark a new strategy for longer-term economic development.

In theory, it could also give Chinese policymakers more room to press ahead with painful structural reforms.

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and many economists have urged Beijing to do away with or lower official growth targets to reduce the country's long reliance on debt-fuelled stimulus and encourage more productive investment.

The IMF warned this year that China's credit growth was on a "dangerous trajectory" and called for "decisive action", while the Bank for International Settlements said late last year that excessive debt growth was signalling a banking crisis in the next three years.

China is well on track to hit its goal of doubling GDP and per capita income by 2020 from 2010 levels.

In the opening speech of China's Communist Party Congress earlier this week, President Xi Jinping said China would further open its markets to foreign investors as it looks to move from high-speed to high-quality growth.

However, this week's congress did not include any public announcements about new economic growth targets.

Analysts believe the government will continue to set annual growth targets through to 2020.

China's growth target for this year is around 6.5 per cent, a level which some analysts expect will be carried over into next year. - REUTERS