China on Saturday said the economy is expected to slow down in the next five years to single digit growth rate as it settles for a new growth path focusing more on improving standards of people to bridge growing economic divide.
Unveiling the new growth strategy at the country's legislature, National People's Congress, (NPC), Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao set a target of 7% of annual economic growth over the next five years.
He said the government wants to focus more on improving quality and performance of economic development. He said the economy grew at an average of 11.2% during the last five years, providing jobs to 57.71 million more people.
"The 12th Five-Year Plan starting from this year is crucial for building a moderately prosperous society in all respects and for deepening reform and opening up and speeding up the transformation of the pattern of economic development," Wen said.
In his work report presented at the NPC meeting, he said some long-term and short-term problems in China's economic activities were intertwined, and institutional incongruities and structural problems were stacked up together, making the country's macro-control more difficult.
In his report, Wen said China will increase its gross domestic product (GDP) by around 8% this year, (last year 10.43%) to further optimise the economic structuring, and to keep the inflation keep under check.
Over 9 million jobs were expected to be created this year to peg urban unemployment rate around 4.6%.
"We need to correctly strike a balance between maintaining steady yet rapid economic development, restructuring the economy and managing inflation expectations, pay more attention to maintaining overall price stability, and prevent large economic fluctuations," he said.
Wen also vowed to follow a strategy of expanding domestic demand and adopt policies and measures to encourage consumer spending to increase domestic consumption in order to reduce China's excessive reliance on exports.
Other objectives for China in 2011, include strengthening agricultural foundation, promoting economic restructuring, implementing the strategy of reinvigorating the country through science and education as well as implementing the strategy of strengthening the country through human resources development.
Commenting on Wen's proposals, Zhuang Jian, a senior economist with the Asian Development Bank, said China faces heavy tasks of improving people's living standards.