Chinese President Xi Jinping stressed the need for stable growth and to press ahead on political and economic reforms in 2016, as the world’s second-largest economy expands its role on an international stage.
President Xi used his annual New Year’s Eve speech to again emphasise how the country must open up its markets while lifting the lot of its 1.3 billion people, despite an economy growing at its slowest pace in a quarter-century.
Bloomberg newsagency reports he added the need to build a harmonious political environment.
“We need to pave the way toward a moderately prosperous society.”
The address marked the end of President Xi’s most challenging year since taking power in November 2012.
While the Communist Party chief racked up wins such as the yuan’s designation as a global reserve currency, his handling of the stock market crash and the slowing economy raised questions about whether the government was committed to the choices necessary to guide growth lower and ease the economy’s dependence on debt.
President Xi also established the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and worked with United States President Barack Obama to forge a global deal to fight climate change.
Bloomberg reports he executed several high-profile state visits including a United Kingdom tour during which he showed a more-relaxed side.
“China will always keep its arms open to the world and will lend a hand to people in difficulties as much as we can. Let’s make our ‘circle of friends’ wider and wider.”
Bloomberg reports the coming months will clarify the extent of President Xi’s success in managing the country’s economic deceleration, amid efforts to streamline bloated state-owned enterprises and confront a rapidly aging workforce.
Delivering robust economic growth has been a key source of the party’s legitimacy for more than three decades, and any further erosion of faith in the ability to maintain that pace risks prompting a more direct challenge to its rule.
Economic data should soon confirm whether China achieved the government’s growth target of about seven per cent, the slowest expansion in 25 years.
Leaders are seeking at least 6.5 per cent annual growth in coming years and they plan to increase the deficit, raising concerns that China still is not prepared to confront debt estimated at 280 per cent of gross domestic product.
A revised code of conduct for cadres was released in October, that prohibits “improper discussion” of party policies and principles.