Chinese premier warns of grave risks and challenges ahead
9 March 2019
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang opened this year’s annual National People’s Congress (NPC) that began in Beijing this week with a work report that highlighted the risks and dangers facing the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) regime from a slowing economy, trade war with the US and rising “public dissatisfaction.”
The lengthy report, couched in the bland official language of the CCP bureaucracy, unusually warned that, internally and externally, “we will face a graver and more complicated environment as well as risks and challenges, foreseeable and otherwise, that are greater in number and size.”
On the economic front, Li pointed to the global slowdown in economic growth, the rise of protectionism and the “drastic fluctuations” in the international prices of commodities that China imports to fuel its giant manufacturing industries. “Instability and uncertainty are visibly increasing, and externally-generated risks are on the rise,” he declared.
Li’s target for growth of the Chinese economy was lowered to between 6 and 6.5 percent—the lowest rate of expansion since 1990—and significantly lower than the range set for last year of 6.5 to 7 percent. Last year’s growth came in at 6.6 percent, well below the benchmark of 8 percent which was long regarded by the CCP as essential to prevent rising unemployment and social unrest.
Li pledged that the government would create 11 million new jobs over the year and keep the rate of urban unemployment as measured by official survey to around 5.5 percent. No targets were provided for rural unemployment and underemployment, which are likely to be higher. Moreover, jobless and growth rates vary widely from region to region, with the…