China's 2019 Work Report: Growth Target, Tax Cuts Announced

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang arrive for the opening session of the National People’s Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing

China past year cut taxes and fees worth 1.3 trillion yuan and allowed local governments to issue 1.35 trillion yuan in special bonds to fund key projects.

Recent economic data point to the difficulties China faces, with growth in the last three months of 2018 clocking in at 6.4 per cent.

"China does not export revolution, hunger or poverty and does not interfere in other countries internal affairs".

To help shore up the economy, Li said China's fiscal policy will become "more forceful", with the government pencilling in cuts of almost 2 trillion yuan (US$298.31 billion) in taxes and fees for companies.

China aims to maintain consumer inflation level at around 3 percent and create over 11 million new urban jobs.

China's defense budget a year ago was set at USD175 billion.

But economist Alicia Garcia-Herrero from the Bruegel think tank downplayed concerns about China's slowdown, saying that the economy is already recovering.

The deficit of China's state budget will be 2.76 trillion yuan (about $411.5 billion), or about 2.8 percent of the country's gross domestic product (GDP), according to the draft budget.

But with the economy losing steam, Value-Added Tax and social security fees will be cut, in a bid to stave off job losses and the related risk of unrest.

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China's 2019 defense spending will rise 7.5 percent from 2018, according to a budget report issued at the opening of the country's annual meeting of parliament on Tuesday, a slower rate than previous year but still outpacing the economic growth target.

The rate marks a fourth straight year for the budgeted growth rate to dip into the single digit since 2016, following five consecutive years of double-digit increases.

A confrontational China-US relationship does not benefit anyone because the interests of the two countries are deeply interwoven, Zhang Yesui, spokesman for the annual session of the National People's Congress, said in Beijing on Monday.

He added that China-US economic and trade frictions "had an adverse effect on the production and business operations of some companies and on market expectations".

A balance will be struck between stabilising economic growth and fending off risks, it said.

The world's two biggest economies have also been engaged in an economic conflict over United States allegations that China steals technology and forces foreign companies to hand over trade secrets in an aggressive push to challenge American technological dominance.

Those external factors, Li said, have led the central government to decide on a somewhat softer and lower growth target for the country.

Li's comments come, somewhat counterintuitively, as Beijing and Washington look to be close to securing a deal on trade after weeks of negotiations between senior figures in both nations.

China might be preparing to offer measures like the further opening of the auto and financial sector to foreign investment and cutting of tariffs of foreign products as concessions in negotiations with the USA, and thus Li had no incentive to make pledges in these areas before a deal is reached.

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