Dropping growth target, China concedes severity of economic obstacles
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But even as Beijing tightens its grip on Hong Kong and steps up its rhetoric against the U.S., senior leaders bowed to the inevitable on Friday, acknowledging the scope of the challenges facing the economy — the bedrock of much of the country's recent strength.
On Friday, Premier Li Keqiang abandoned the country's annual gross domestic product target for the first time in more than a quarter-century, citing "factors that are difficult to predict" — most notably the coronavirus pandemic and uncertainties around trade.
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Mr. Li and his fellow Chinese policymakers are portraying the decision as a liberating one. Mr. Li said the lack of a growth target would enable them to focus on ensuring stability and security.
There is an element of truth there. China's economy is slowly plateauing after an extended run of world-beating growth, and leaders have in recent years de-emphasized explicit growth targets anyway, increasingly regarding them as burdensome.