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Local governments revise GDP growth targets lower for 2018

Xin Zhiming and Bai Yiran
Updated: Jan 26,2018 9:09 AM     China Daily

A number of Chinese local governments have set lower GDP growth targets for this year and attached more importance to innovation and environmental protection after the country vowed to pursue high-quality development.

The largest GDP growth target adjustment came from Tianjin municipality, from 8 percent for 2017 to 5 percent for this year, according to its government work report delivered at the local people’s congress sessions.

In 2017, Tianjin’s GDP growth slumped to 3.6 percent year-on-year, the lowest since 1989, from 9 percent in 2016.

Most of China’s provinces and autonomous regions convene their annual legislative sessions in January, when local government work reports, which cover key development plans and growth targets for that year, are released. According to reports so far released, Anhui, Hubei and Gansu provinces, Inner Mongolia and Tibet autonomous regions cut their GDP growth moderately for this year. Anhui, for example, cut it to 8 percent from 8.5 percent for last year while Hubei and Gansu all trimmed it by 0.5 percentage point. Targets of Beijing, Shanghai, Jiangxi and Hunan remained unchanged.

The downward adjustments of growth targets show that the local governments are attaching less importance to GDP growth rates while putting more energy into economic restructuring, Zhang Peng, a researcher at the Institute of Economics of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told Shanghai Securities News.

“Now that it has entered a new era, the competition has shifted from speed and scale to efficiency,” Cheng Hongyu, a professor at the Guangdong Institute of Public Administration, told Xinhua News Agency.

The 19th National Congress of the CPC last October and the Central Economic Work Conference in December, two high-profile meetings that set tones for future development, both urged that the nation pursue high-quality development and put more emphasis on green development, innovation and poverty reduction.

The local governments have responded swiftly. Anhui province, for example, said in this year’s government work report that improvement in development quality and innovation capacity will be on top of the provincial agenda.

China’s GDP growth reached a higher-than-expected 6.9 percent in 2017. By press time, among the 20 provinces and autonomous regions that have released their 2017 GDP growth rates, Guizhou province topped the rest by achieving a 10.2 percent growth.

The southwestern province has made much headway in attracting high-tech industry investment and the explosive growth of its big data industry, in particular, has contributed greatly to local growth, said Xu Hongcai, an economist with the China Center for International Economic Exchanges.