China signals it may miss annual economic growth target

China has signalled that it may miss its annual economic growth target, as Covid-19 restrictions weigh on the world’s second largest economy, the media reported on Friday.

On Thursday, the Politburo, the ruling Communist Party’s top policy-making body chaired by President Xi Jinping, said it aims to keep growth within “a reasonable range”, the BBC reported.

It did not mention the official growth target of 5.5 per cent it had earlier set.

In a statement after its quarterly economic meeting, the 25-member Politburo said leaders would “strive to achieve the best results possible”.

However, it also called on stronger provinces to work to meet their growth targets.

Analysts said the lack of a GDP mention was notable, though economists had earlier predicted it would be difficult for China to reach its 5.5 per cent target.

“The 5.5 per cent growth target is no longer a must for China,” the BBC quoted Iris Pang, chief China economist at ING Bank, as saying to The Wall Street Journal.

The analysts also added that China was urging larger provinces to make up for those that were more affected by the lockdown.

“Beijing requested that provinces which are relatively well-positioned should strive to achieve economic and social targets for this year,” Nomura analysts Ting Lu, Jing Wang and Harrington Zhang said in a note.

“We think Beijing is suggesting that GDP growth targets for provinces with less favourable conditions, especially for those that were hard hit by the Omicron variant and lockdowns, could be more flexible.”

China is continuing to pursue a zero-Covid policy that has put major cities into full or partial lockdowns.

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