Economy to Dominate Annual Chinese Gathering (Updated)

The New York Times has more from the annual NPC session now ongoing in Beijing:

In the nine-day session of the National People’s Congress, about the only suspense involves whether the government will propose to add still more stimulus spending to the $584 billion that China’s leaders already have pledged to help the slumping economy. On Wednesday, Asian and European stocks rose in part on hopes that it would.

Prime Minister Wen Jiabao is to speak early on Thursday to the 3,000-odd delegates, and is expected by many analysts to set a target for 8 percent growth of China’s gross domestic product in 2009, the same as in previous years. The government has long said that that rate is needed to hold down unemployment and the potential for social unrest. The economy logged a 9 percent rate last year, even after a sharp slowdown in the last quarter.

But a number of experts believe that a 2009 growth rate of 6.5 percent or 7 percent, meager by recent Chinese standards, is increasingly likely. Some financial analysts predicted this week that the government will propose spending vast new amounts to head off a sharper decline, although the consensus view is that new spending, if any, will be more modest.

Read CDT's previous post on government fears about rising unemployment.

Update: The Los Angeles Times also reports on the issue of the economy at the 2009 NPC session.

Send unemployed migrant workers to farm in Africa and Europe. Issue consumption vouchers every quarter to every citizen in China. Reduce the workweek to four-and-a-half days.

Desperate as they may sound, these and other proposals from China's political advisors and delegates underscore the deep economic concerns facing Chinese leaders as they open the annual legislative session Thursday.

China's economy, the world's third-largest after the U.S. and Japan, has slowed sharply amid plunging exports, putting some 20 million migrant laborers out of work and threatening social stability.

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