Lawmakers see tough year ahead for reforms as NPC session opens


China’s economy is targeting a reasonable range of growth, between 6 to 7 percent in 2017. The country plans to deepen reforms in all fields to improve overall performance.

Those are the key pledges made by Premier Li Keqiang, when he outlined the government’s plans. The premier gave a keynote speech at opening of the annual session of the National People’s Congress, or NPC.

CGTN’s Han Bin reports.

China’s steel industry has faced hard times as demand dropped and prices sank. The government is cutting overcapacity to steer the economy towards consumption. Many believe the short-term pain will give way to long-term growth.

They include Fang Liping, who’s been working in the HBIS Tangsteel factory for over 30 years.

She’s also a deputy of the National People’s Congress.

Chinese President Xi Jinping during the Two Sessions.

“The economic slowdown has pushed the company to restructure its production, and upgrade technology to improve quality. Products must meet market demand, or else they can’t be sold. Some furnaces have already been shut down,” Fang said.

Across China, many companies are shutting down, or transforming to other industries.

Cutting overcapacity is a national reform priority, as excess capacity weighs on overall economic performance.

“I want to know if the government can provide some substantial support for the companies in difficulties, like money or policies,” Fang added.

The world is watching as the government announces this year’s growth target for the world’s second biggest economy.

Premier Li said the emphasis is on “seeking progress while maintaining stability.” The goal is a growth model driven more by new engines such as innovation, services, and consumption. And supply-side structural reform will deepen.

“This year, we will further reduce steel production capacity by around 50 million metric tons. As over capacity is cut we must provide assistance to laid-off workers. Central government special funds for rewards and subsidies should be promptly allocated,” Li said.

Over the next two weeks, deputies will review the work report. Their vote will determine the guidance for reforms in the year ahead.

Many deputies say that compared with other reforms, reducing overcapacity is relatively easy. There are many tougher challenges. One of them is how to establish an effective mechanism through reform.

Dan McClory of Boustead Securities on China’s investment climate

For more on China’s Two Sessions, the current investment climate and any concerns over China-U.S. bilateral trade, Susan Roberts spoke with Dan McClory of Boustead Securites.