Wen aims for eight per cent growth and social reforms

China expects eight per cent growth in 2010 and hopes to create nine million jobs, Prime Minister Wen Jiabao told the People’s Congress in his annual address Friday. He pledged to improve conditions for the country’s 230 million migrant workers.

The People's Congress opens on 5 March
The People's Congress opens on 5 March Reuters

"This is a crucial year for continuing to deal with the global financial crisis, maintaining steady and rapid economic development and accelerating the transformation of the pattern of economic development," Wen told the country’s parliament.

Wen announced economic and social targets for the year to come:

  • Growth should be eight per cent growth, after last year’s 8.7 per cent;
  • Inflation will be reduced to about three per cent;
  • Bank lending will be curbed to avoid a speculative bubble;
  • Domestic spending will be boosted to make the economy less reliant on cheap exports;
  • The currency, the yuan, will remain “basically stable”, a stance which may annoy trading partners who say it is kept low to boost exports;
  • Social services will be improved for migrant workers, notably by reforming residency rules which discriminate against the millions of migrant workers on whose labour the big cities now rely.

China’s economic growth has been accompanied by thousands of protests, many of them violent, by workers and farmers. The threat of social unrest is a major concern of the ruling Communist Party.

"We will move faster to buld a better social safety net to provide basic security to people and free them from worries, Wen said. "We will not only make the pie of social wealth bigger by developing the economy, but also distribute it well on the basis of a rational income distribution system."

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