Workers work in a factory of Jinglong Industry and Commerce Group in Xingtai, north China's Hebei Province, Jan. 25, 2017. (Xinhua file photo/Mu Yu)
With China's economic growth slowing for a sixth year in 2016 to a 26-year low, the world is watching as the government prepares to announce this year's growth target at the annual parliamentary session.
China adopted a target range for GDP growth for the first time in more than two decades in 2016, and its 6.7-percent growth fell within that range of 6.5-7 percent.
Although the pace still beat most major economies, the country's year-on-year growth has slowed for six years in a row, falling from a growth rate of more than 10 percent in 2010.
As the current government enters the final year of its five-year term, all eyes are on this year's growth target, which will be released in early March at the annual sessions of China's top legislature and top political advisory body, known as the national "two sessions."
TARGET IN THE SPOTLIGHT
Given increasing uncertainties at home and abroad, whether China changes its growth target matters. The decision will be especially important as a new central committee will be elected at the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China in the second half of this year.
Central bank advisor Huang Yiping told Xinhua that the government should set a more flexible target for economic growth in 2017 to make more room for reforms, proposing a target range of 6-7 percent.
"We expect China to set its GDP growth target at about 6.5 percent for 2017, and it could grow 6.6 percent this year," said Ding Shuang, chief Greater China economist with Standard Chartered.
The Asian Development Bank, however, forecast in December that China's growth would be 6.4 percent in 2017, while the World Bank was more optimistic, keeping its earlier prediction at 6.5 percent in January, in line with the forecast made by government think tank Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.
Either way, China's growth would remain within a reasonable range and is unlikely to become a "black swan" event of the world economy in 2017.
"Seeking progress while maintaining stability" will be the main theme for China, according to a statement issued after the Central Economic Work Conference, during which Chinese leaders and senior officials gathered to map out priorities for 2017.