BEIJING Jan 6 China's leadership is
targeting growth of less than 8 percent in 2012 a senior
government researcher wrote on Friday in the People's Daily, the
mouthpiece of the ruling Communist Party.
Lin Zhaomu, a researcher affiliated with China's economic
planning agency and the author of key economic documents for the
Chinese leadership, wrote that the 2012 target fell between 7
and 8 percent and had been adjusted to help Beijing deliver on
its plan for average GDP growth of 7 percent in 2011-2015.
A government adviser, who declined to be identified,
separately told Reuters that the leadership had set a 7.5
percent growth target for 2012 at the annual economic working
conference last month, Beijing's top economic planning event.
Investors had anticipated a lower growth target to be set in
a bid by Beijing to engineer a soft landing for an economy that
has boomed for most of the last three decades.
Private sector economists expect annual economic growth
slowed to below 9 percent in the last three months of 2011,
though they still expect full year growth to be around the 9
percent mark. Q4 GDP data is due to be published on January 17.
Lin said the less ambitious target also reflected the
leadership's concern about weakening demand in overseas markets
and a shrinking labour supply at home.
China's economic growth target, regarded more as a guideline
than a serious goal, is made public by the premier to the
ceremonial gathering of the parliament in early March.
Premier Wen Jiabao has set an annual economic growth target
of 8 percent for the last seven consecutive years, with actual
growth consistently ahead of that -- even during the 2008/09
global financial crisis.
Although Beijing has targeted 7 percent annual average
growth for the period of 2011-2015, Chinese provincial
governments were much more aggressive -- the average weighted
growth target published by China's 31 provinces for the
five-year period was 10.5 percent, according to Lin.