Beijing, like Shanghai, keeps 2018 economic growth target at about 6.5 percent

BEIJING (Reuters) - Beijing’s municipal government said on Wednesday that it will keep its 2018 economic growth target at around 6.5 percent, on par with the objective that Shanghai has set for itself this year.

FILE PHOTO: Workers lay bricks to build a wall around a construction site in Beijing, China, December 15, 2017. REUTERS/Thomas Peter/File Photo

The targets for the two wealthy mega-cities are in line with the national goal, which policy sources previously told Reuters will be kept steady at around 6.5 percent as the central government shifts its focus to quality from high growth.

Premier Li Keqiang said this week that the “three tough battles” for China’s economy are reducing poverty, controlling pollution and curtailing risks.

Shanghai and Beijing, which are not part of any province, together accounted for 7 percent of the national gross domestic product (GDP) last year.

The two cities are often magnets for both government and private investors, and in recent years, property speculators. While Shanghai remains synonymous with profit-driven entrepreneurship, Beijing is developing a reputation as a hub for technology start-ups.

Shanghai’s economy grew 6.9 percent last year to 3 trillion yuan ($469 billion), with services accounting for 69 percent of its economy. Beijing expanded 6.7 percent to 2.8 trillion yuan, with its high tech and strategic new industries surging more than 10 percent.

China’s GDP grew 6.9 percent to 82.71 trillion yuan in value terms.

Shanghai and Beijing - among the world’s most populous cities - saw rare declines in population last year, data released late last week showed, as authorities clamped down on what they call an “urban disease”.

Migrant workers were evicted and industries relocated, amid anxiety over dwindling resources to support huge populations and spreading urban sprawl.

Beijing’s population fell 0.1 percent, or 22,000, to 21.7 million, while Shanghai’s declined by 13,700 to 24.18 million.

Reporting by Ryan Woo; Additional reporting by Stella Qiu in BEIJING; Editing by Richard Borsuk