Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang in the opening speech of the annual legislative session.ROMAN PILIPEY / EFE
China has set a growth target of 6% for this year, after the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020 forced it to give up setting a goal.
The second largest economy in the world, which aims to become a developed economy by 2035, expanded by 2.3% last year, the only one among the large ones that registered an increase.
In the government's work report, equivalent to a speech on the State of the Nation in China, Prime Minister Li Keqiang introduced the nearly 3,000 delegates gathered at the annual session of the National People's Congress (ANP) the main economic and political objectives for this year.
During its week of meetings, the ANP, the Chinese Parliament, must give the go-ahead to the 14th Five-Year Plan, which will govern the country's economy until 2025. It also plans to tackle a reform of Hong Kong's electoral system that will reduce the chances that the opposition can gain control of the legislature or the government.
Amid the perfectly timed applause of the delegates, most of them protected with masks, the prime minister pointed out that, after having made the pandemic almost completely controlled within the country, the government expects a more prosperous year.
"As a general objective, China's growth rate has been set at more than 6% for this year," said Li.
"When setting this objective, we have taken into account the recovery of economic activity."
It is a figure that should be easy for the Chinese government to achieve.
The International Monetary Fund forecasts a growth of 8.1% for the second world economy throughout 2021.
For this year, the country aims to create more than eleven million new jobs in cities, two million more than last year.
It estimates that its unemployment rate - which excludes the nearly 300 million rural migrants who are estimated to live in the country's cities - will be 5.5%, slightly lower than the 5.6% in 2020, and below the 6.2% official that reached the worst of the pandemic, in the first quarter of last year.
In addition, it foresees a budget deficit of around 3.2% of GDP, below the 3.6% percent that was set as a goal in 2020. The inflation target is set at 3%, while in the previous year I had calculated 3.5%.
In 2021 "China will continue to face numerous risks and challenges in terms of development", although "the economic fundamentals that will underpin long-term growth will remain unchanged," said the prime minister in the Great Hall of the Great Hall of the People in Beijing.
In a complementary report issued by the Ministry of Finance, the Government has set for this exercise an increase of 6.8% in the official Defense budget, which will reach 1.3 trillion yuan (about 174,000 million euros).
It is a slight increase compared to last year, when this item grew by 6.7%.
By contrast, the allocation for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is contracted by 1.9%.
Li's speech also made reference to one of what the Chinese government considers one of the serious problems that the country faces for the future, the drop in births and the accelerated aging of the population.
As he pointed out, Beijing will work to make the birth rate "appropriate", a statement that points to the possibility of permanently eliminating the restrictions that still exist to have more than two children per couple.
"We will implement a national strategy to face the aging of the population, and we will improve the social services system with a focus on caring for the elderly and children," said the prime minister.
It is also planned, he revealed, to raise the regulatory age for retirement "gradually."
Currently, the age is set at 60 years for men and 55 for women, although this requirement can be lowered to 50 years, in the case of women in jobs of great physical exhaustion.