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May 25, 2020

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COVID-19 reshaping how China sees economy

In a rare move, China has not set a target for its economic growth rate this year.

Instead of a forecast with specific figures, the nation may better focus its resources on stabilizing employment and safeguarding livelihoods amid the uncertainties caused in part by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the annual government work report delivered on Friday at the third session of the 13th National People’s Congress, Premier Li Keqiang categorically called “stabilizing employment and safeguarding livelihoods” a priority for this year.

Explaining why no target has been set for this year’s economic growth rate, Li said it was mainly due to uncertainties surrounding the global pandemic as well as economic and trade issues, under which China’s development would face certain hard-to-predict factors.

Not setting a concrete target for the growth rate would enable all parties concerned to better concentrate on ensuring stability and security in key areas such as employment.

Stephen Perry, chairman of the 48 Group Club, said in a televised interview that it is scientific and sensible for China to recognize how complicated everything is, and not set targets. According to China Securities Journal, forecasting the rate of economic growth has been a general practice in the country since the 1990s.

While there’s no such a forecast this year, there have been a plenty of measures targeted at consolidating the economic fundamentals.

After all, the economy is not just about how fast it grows or keeps growing; it’s about the health of the basics. It doesn’t matter if an economy grows at a slower speed sometimes. What matters is its capacity to corroborate the basics even in a less-speedy year.

“The government work report is oriented toward people’s livelihood,” said Lei Jun, head of Xiaomi. “Our premier won the most applause when he talked about stabilizing enterprises and ensuring employment, as well as support for micro, small and medium-sized businesses.”

Yao Yang, an expert on national development at Peking University, said yesterday that micro and small enterprises contribute about half of China’s urban employment, and are of particular importance when economic growth is less robust.

Support for businesses is more than helping them survive in a business sense only. Fundamentally speaking, these grassroots market entities are a dynamic source of innovation helping drive the economy forward.


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