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China’s GDP growth goal could have been set around 6 pct before coronavirus: Xi

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Chinese President Xi Jinping said China’s annual economic growth target could have been set around 6 percent had the new coronavirus epidemic not happened, according to state media reports on Saturday.

The Chinese government on Friday omitted a gross domestic product (GDP) growth target for 2020 in its yearly work report unveiled at the start of the annual meeting of parliament, citing uncertainties brought on by the epidemic.

“If the epidemic hadn’t happened, under general circumstances, the GDP growth target would be set around 6 percent,” Xi told a parliamentary group discussion on Friday, according to state media.

That would have been in line with the goal of around 6 percent that sources told Reuters in early December before the epidemic struck.

“After the outbreak, some things were not left to us. A global recession is a foregone conclusion. As to how much and how deeply we will be affected, there is still a lot of uncertainty,” Xi said.

In its work report, the government announced a range of fiscal measures to bolster the economy, equal to about 4.1 percent of China’s GDP, according to Reuters calculations based on the fiscal stimulus announced.

The government said it would make fiscal policy more proactive and be more flexible with monetary policy, while paying attention to jobs and boosting consumption.

“If we rigidly set one (GDP target), then the focus will be on strong stimulus and to hit the growth rate, which is not in line with the purpose of our economic and social development,” Xi said.

China has been reluctant to flood its economy with easy credit in recent years as a slowdown persisted, even before the coronavirus outbreak, wary of debt risks caused by massive stimulus.

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