China will set its economic growth target at “around 6.5 percent” this year, according to people familiar with the outcome of a recent high-level planning meeting.
Top officials decided to maintain the same numerical goal as in 2017 at the Communist Party’s Central Economic Work Conference last month, according to the people, who asked not to be identified as the talks weren’t public.
It’s not clear what the final wording of the target will be, including any qualification such as 2017’s commitment to seek faster growth, “if possible,” the people said. The final wording will be released at a meeting of the National People’s Congress in March, they said.
Economists surveyed by Bloomberg project 6.5 percent growth this year, though some observers including JPMorgan Chase & Co. have recently upgraded their outlook amid strong external demand. The growth target is usually officially unveiled following a meeting of the nation’s legislature in the spring.
At the work conference, Chinese leaders criticized regulators and finance officials for not having done enough to prevent disorder in financial markets, a buildup of leverage and the growth of local debt that had escaped central government scrutiny. An official statement following the conclave echoed the need to do more, and declared a three-year campaign against financial risk, pollution and poverty.
The world’s second-largest economy easily surpassed last year’s growth goal even amid Beijing’s broad crackdown on financial risk, and is poised for its first full-year acceleration since 2010. Fourth-quarter growth edged down to 6.7 percent, according to a Bloomberg survey before the report due for release on Jan. 18, from 6.8 percent in the third quarter.
The information office for the State Council, China’s cabinet, didn’t respond to a fax requesting comment. Reuters reported the growth target on Jan. 4.