December 7, 2016 / 11:29 AM / 3 years ago

China premier says steady growth this year to lay good foundation for 2017

China's Premier Li Keqiang speaks during the opening ceremony of the 9th Global Conference on Health Promotion in Shanghai, China November 21, 2016. REUTERS/Aly Song

BEIJING (Reuters) - China will reach its key economic targets this year, which will lay a good foundation for 2017, state television quoted Premier Li Keqiang as saying on Wednesday.

Li said China’s economy maintained steady growth this year, amid structural transformation and upgrading.

“Despite the difficulties and challenges, we are sure to complete the main annual economic and social development objectives, laying a good foundation for China’s economic development next year,” Li said.

Top leaders are due to map out an economic and reform agenda for 2017 during an annual Central Economic Work Conference later this month.

Growing debt and property risks have touched off an internal debate about whether China should tolerate slower growth in 2017 to allow more room for painful reforms aimed at reducing industrial overcapacity and indebtedness.

The government has said growth of at least 6.5 percent is needed each year through to 2020 to meet a previously stated goal of doubling gross domestic product and per capita income by then, from 2010 levels.

The government aims for 6.5-7.0 percent growth this year.

Separately, the cabinet announced a five-year plan to “promote the rise” of the country’s central regions.

Under the plan, the government will support the transfer of advanced industries from more developed coastal provinces to inland central regions, the cabinet said after a meeting but did not give further details.

Reporting by China monitoring team and Kevin Yao; Editing by Richard Borsuk, Robert Birsel

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