China sets 5% growth goal, toughens talk on Taiwan

STORY: China has set its growth target for the year at 5% - and warned hitting it won’t be easy.

The goal was revealed as the annual meeting of the country’s parliament got under way.

Premier Li Qiang spoke in the cavernous Great Hall of the People on Beijing’s Tiananmen Square:

“These expected targets are proposed taking into account both domestic and international situations and various factors. Achieving these targets this year is not an easy task, it requires focused policies, doubled efforts in work, and concerted efforts from all sides.”

The target is similar to last year's, but faces even stronger headwinds.

China started the year with a stock market rout and deepening deflation.

A property market crisis only seems to get worse, with giant developer Evergrande told to liquidate.

And a sputtering economic recovery has laid bare deep-seated structural problems, including feeble household consumption.

On Monday, Li vowed to transform the country’s growth model.

He said Beijing would curb industrial overcapacity, tackle the property crisis and address risks over massive municipal debts.

It will also pour money into tech innovation and advanced manufacturing.

But investors were disappointed by the lack of detail on what all that might mean in practice.

Hong Kong’s benchmark Hang Seng index slid over 2% following Li’s outlook.

Analysts still bet the country will have to lower its growth targets in the future, pointing to pressures including China’s falling population.

Also Monday, Li flagged another rise in defense spending, and toughened rhetoric toward Taiwan.

His report to parliament dropped all mention of “peaceful reunification” with the island, which Beijing views as a breakaway province.

Instead it promised to “resolutely oppose” any move towards Taiwan independence.