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China to drive world economic recovery, says a top communist official

Zhao Leji, chairperson of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, speaks at the opening ceremony of the Boao Forum of Asia, in Boao, China, on March 28, 2024.
Zhao Leji, chairperson of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, speaks at the opening ceremony of the Boao Forum of Asia, in Boao, China, on March 28, 2024.

Brushing off domestic economic headwinds, a top Communist Party official said Thursday that China aims to drive the world’s recovery this year by pushing forward reforms and making tech innovation a new point of growth.

The remarks from Zhao Leji, who chairs the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, come as foreign investment in the country is falling and it grapples with issues that include high youth unemployment, ballooning debt and a crisis in the property market.

Speaking to businesspeople and other leaders at the Boao Forum for Asia, Zhao said China welcomes "all countries to board the express train of China's development."

Zhao said tech innovation, particularly through green technologies, would be a key point of economic growth.

He also said that China is set to further open its market for foreign investors, adding that boosting green technology production would generate about $1.4 trillion annually.

China is the world's second-biggest economy after the United States and, according to Zhao, is set to have its import and exports of goods surpass $32 trillion over the next five years. The country has been struggling to bounce back from the COVID-19 pandemic and security policies that have made investors wary of doing business there.

Foreign businesses, looking to mitigate risk, have been reducing investment in Chinese companies.

During the forum in the southern city of Boao, Zhao said that China would open further to investors by reducing the list of industries in which Beijing prohibits or restricts foreign investment without state approval.

He announced a growth target of about 5% for China’s economy in 2024.

Zhao also reaffirmed China's commitment to achieving climate neutrality with the help of green technologies.

"We are speeding up efforts to promote green and low-carbon economic and social development and will strive to peak carbon dioxide emissions by 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2060," he said.

Beijing is also aiming to reduce its ratio of energy consumption to GDP.

During the forum, Zhao urged other countries to "transcend the old mentality of bloc confrontation and zero-sum games and practice genuine multilateralism to jointly build an open-world economy."

Zhao’s remarks come amid fresh economic tensions between Beijing and Washington.

On Monday, China filed dispute proceedings with the World Trade Organization accusing the U.S. of "discriminatory" electric vehicle subsidies.

A day later, U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said Chinese subsidies for clean energy industries create unfair competition that “hurts American firms and workers, as well as firms and workers around the world.”

Yellen said that during a planned visit to China next month she intends to warn Beijing about its national underwriting for energy and other companies and how that is creating oversupply and market distortion.

Some information from this report came from Reuters and The Associated Press.

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