News / Asia

    China Aims for 6.5-7% Growth as Layoffs Loom

    Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, center walks past Chinese President Xi Jinping, at right to deliver a work report for the opening session of the annual National People's Congress in Beijing's Great Hall of the People, March 5, 2016.
    Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, center walks past Chinese President Xi Jinping, at right to deliver a work report for the opening session of the annual National People's Congress in Beijing's Great Hall of the People, March 5, 2016.

    China has announced a wide range of measures that it believes will help keep the world’s second-largest economy growing by at least 6.5 percent this year, even as slowing global growth and massive job layoffs loom for some industries.
     
    Chinese Premier Li Keqiang opted to announce the economic growth objective as a range of 6.5 to seven percent of gross domestic product while presenting a key government report on Saturday. China achieved 6.9 percent growth last year, against the target of seven percent as the economy grew at its slowest pace in a quarter century.

    FILE - A closed brick factory building on the outskirts of Beijing, China, Jan. 18, 2016. Chinese manufacturing ebbed in January to its lowest in more than three years, a possible sign of further weakness in the world's No. 2 economy.
    FILE - A closed brick factory building on the outskirts of Beijing, China, Jan. 18, 2016. Chinese manufacturing ebbed in January to its lowest in more than three years, a possible sign of further weakness in the world's No. 2 economy.


    "I think the aim is to lower the expectations and make it more flexible," said Zhang Yunling, member of the national committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference or CPPCC. "There are difficulties in economic restructuring and the global economic situation is worse than expected."
     
    Analysts said Li appeared to be discouraging high expectations, given the risk of a political backlash from the ongoing economic slowdown.
     
    "China will face more and tougher problems and challenges in its development this year, so we must be fully prepared to fight a difficult battle,” Li said, in remarks to the country’s largely rubber-stamp legislature, the National People’s Congress or NPC.

    FILE - bA cargo ship is anchored at a port in Zhoushan, Zhejiang province, Feb. 14, 2016. China's exports fell 11.2 percent in January from a year earlier and imports tumbled 18.8 percent.
    FILE - bA cargo ship is anchored at a port in Zhoushan, Zhejiang province, Feb. 14, 2016. China's exports fell 11.2 percent in January from a year earlier and imports tumbled 18.8 percent.


    Looming layoffs
     
    Earlier this week, even before the NPC and CPPCC – a political advisory body – began hosting their annual top-level meetings in Beijing, one official said China’s coal and steel industries expect to layoff 1.8 million workers as enterprises deal with overcapacity.

     The official did not give a timeline for the layoffs.

    FILE - Miners wait in lines to shower during a break near a coal mine in Heshun county, Shanxi province, Dec. 5, 2014.
    FILE - Miners wait in lines to shower during a break near a coal mine in Heshun county, Shanxi province, Dec. 5, 2014.


    Quoting sources, the Reuters news agency has reported that China aims to layoff as many as eight million workers over the next two to three years.
     
    It was clear from Li’s remarks that controlling job losses are a top priority. In his speech, Li said the government aims to create 10 million new urban jobs this year and 50 million by 2020.
     
    In an indication of just how mindful China is about of the possibility of large-scale layoffs, Li announced that authorities aim to provide training for some 21 million migrant workers and employment services for military personnel who have been demobilized. A generous $16 billion has also been carved out of the budgetary cake for the purpose of retraining and resettling unemployed workers.
     
    "Announcement of funds to support displaced workers are welcome provided laid off workers are provided with pensions and retraining in order to move them into productive areas of the economy like logistics and services," said Mats Harborn, vice president of the European Chamber of Commerce in China.
     
    Unemployment set at 4.5 %

     
    China has set a goal to keep unemployment at or below 4.5 percent, but it faces a double-edged challenge as it seeks to restructure its economy and create new jobs in the growing service sector, while facing the possibility of massive layoffs in traditional industries like coal mining and steel production.
     
    In his speech, Li also talked about the importance of helping more than 7.6 million graduates who will join the work force this year to find employment. He said that incentives would be used to encourage companies to hire graduates and help them start their own businesses.

    FILE - In this Aug. 21, 2015 photo, a Chinese man works amid orange robot arms at Rapoo Technology factory in southern Chinese industrial boomtown of Shenzhen.
    FILE - In this Aug. 21, 2015 photo, a Chinese man works amid orange robot arms at Rapoo Technology factory in southern Chinese industrial boomtown of Shenzhen.


    China’s ruling communist party places a high priority on maintaining stability and keeping unemployment low has long been seen as way of preventing possible unrest or broader dissatisfaction that could potentially threaten its grip on power.
     
    Mei Xingbao, a prominent businessman and CPPCC representative, told VOA earlier in the week that there would be pressures on social stability from layoffs. But, the pressure is unlikely to be as great as in the past because of preparations authorities have made to minimize the impact, he added.
     
    “In some places it will be inevitable that there will be sit-ins and petitions made to authorities, and that is why the government needs to do a good job calming down those who have lost their jobs and implementing its policies,” Mei said.
     
    Low income, high spending

     
    Li admitted that tax income from industries has come down sharply because of the economic softening. But he announced higher doses of expenditure in major infrastructure projects that include housing and railways networks. The result is a high level of deficit financing to support the increased spending in 2016, though past Communist governments have shunned this method of balancing budgets.
     
    "Government spending is still crucial for development. The new expenditures will not cause problems because central government debt is still low and inflation is not high," Zhang said.
     
    There are still inadequacies in the work of the government, analysts said. Some reforms, policies, and measures have not been fully implemented; a small number of government employees either do not or are unable to fulfill their duties, or behave irresponsibly; and the corruption and misconduct in some sectors cannot be ignored.

    VOA Mandarin service correspondent Ye Bing also contributed to this report.

     

    You May Like

    Video Obama Remembers Fallen Troops for Memorial Day

    President urges Americans this holiday weekend to 'take a moment and offer a silent word of prayer or public word of thanks' to country's veterans

    Upsurge of Migratory Traffic Across Sahara From West to North Africa

    A report by the International Organization for Migration finds more than 60,000 migrants have transited through the Agadez region of Niger between February and April

    UN Blocks Access to Journalist Advocacy Group

    United Nations has rejected bid from nonprofit journalist advocacy group that wanted 'consultative status,' ranking that would have given them greater access to UN meetings

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora