REPORT ON THE WORK OF THE GOVERNMENT
Delivered at the Fifth Session of the 12th National People’s Congress of the People’s Republic of China on March 5, 2017
Premier of the State Council
On behalf of the State Council, I will now report to you on the work of the government and ask for your deliberation and approval. I also wish to have comments on my report from the members of the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC).
Review of our work in 2016
In the past year, China’s development has faced grave challenges posed by a great many problems and interwoven risks and dangers both at home and abroad.However, under the strong leadership of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core, we the Chinese people have risen to the challenge and worked hard to press ahead, driving forward sustained, healthy economic and social development.At the Sixth Plenary Session of the 18th Party Central Committee,the core position of General Secretary Xi Jinping was formally affirmed, which reflects the fundamental interests of the Party and the Chinese people, and is of crucial and far-reaching significance for ensuring the flourishing and long-term stability of the Party and the country. All regions and all government departments have steadily strengthened their consciousness of the need to maintain political integrity, think in big-picture terms, uphold the leadership core, and keep in alignment.Pushing ahead with all-around efforts, we have achieved major progress in finishing building a moderately prosperous society in all respects, made important strides in deepening reform, continued to exercise law-based governance, and made further progress in practicing strict Party self-governance; and we have accomplished the year’s main tasks and targets for economic and social development, and got the 13th Five-Year Plan off to a great start.
The economy has registered a slower but stable performance with good momentum for growth. GDP reached 74.4 trillion yuan, representing 6.7-percent growth, and seeing China outpace most other economies. China contributed more than 30 percent of global growth. The CPI rose by 2 percent. With an 8.5-percent increase in profits, industrial enterprises reversed the previous year’s negative growth of 2.3 percent. Energy consumption per unit of GDP fell by 5 percent. Economic performance improved markedly in quality and returns.
Employment growth exceeded projections. A total of 13.14 million new urban jobs were added over the course of the year. The number of college graduates finding employment or starting businesses reached another record high. The registered urban unemployment rate stood at 4.02 percent at year-end 2016, the lowest level in years. For China, a large developing country with a population of over 1.3 billion, attaining this level of employment is no easy task.
Continued advances were made in reform and opening up. Breakthroughs were made in reforms in major sectors and key links, and initial success was achieved in supply-side structural reform. New measures were introduced for opening China up, rapid progress was made in pursuing the Belt and Road Initiative, and a number of major projects and industrial-capacity cooperation projects with other countries were launched.
Economic structural adjustment was stepped up.Consumption was the main driver of economic growth. The value created by the service sector rose to 51.6 percent of GDP. High-tech industries and equipment manufacturing grew rapidly. In agriculture, production was stable and structural adjustments were made, and we had continued good grain harvests.
New drivers of growth gained strength.Further progress was made in pursuing the innovation-driven development strategy, and a number of world-leading achievements were made in science and technology. Emerging industries were thriving, and the transformation and upgrading of traditional industries accelerated. People were busy launching businesses or making innovations, with a 24.5-percent year-on-year increase in the number of new businesses registered-an average of 15,000 new businesses daily.With self-employed traders and other market entities included we had an average of 45,000 new market entities launched per day. New growth drivers are opening new prospects for China’s development.
Infrastructure became ever-better able to sustain development.Over 1,900 kilometers of new high-speed rail lines came into service, and more than 6,700 kilometers of expressways and 290,000 kilometers of rural roads were built or upgraded. Construction picked up pace on urban rail transit facilities and underground utility tunnels. Construction began on 21 major water conservancy projects. The number of 4G mobile communications subscribers grew by 340 million and over 5.5 million kilometers of optical fiber cables were added.
Living standards were improved.Personal per capita disposable income increased by 6.3 percent in real terms. The number of people living in poverty in rural areas was reduced by 12.4 million, including more than 2.4 million people relocated from inhospitable areas. More than 6 million homes in rundown urban areas and over 3.8 million dilapidated rural houses were renovated. In tourism, domestic trips showed rapid growth, and overseas trips exceeded 120 million. People in both urban and rural areas saw arise in living standards.
China successfully hosted the G20 2016 Hangzhou Summit, and helped to deliver a number of important pioneering, leading, and institutional outcomes, thus doing its part for global economic governance.
2016 was an unusual year in our country’s development. China was confronted with an external environment in which the world saw the lowest economic and trade growth in seven years, growing volatility in global financial markets, and sudden and frequent regional and global challenges.Domestically, China faced multiple difficulties: major structural problems, prominent risks and dangers, and mounting downward pressure on the economy. China found itself in a complex environment as reform entered a critical stage, profound changes took place affecting interests, and factors impacting social stability grew.Given all these factors, it was not easy for us to maintain stable economic performance. And yet we succeeded, and even managed to make progress on many fronts. Once again, this shows that we the Chinese people have the courage, ingenuity, and ability to overcome any difficulty or hardship. It also shows that the Chinese economy possesses potential, resilience, and strengths, so we can be sure there is even better development ahead for China.
I will now move on to discuss our main work last year:
First, we continued to develop new and more effective ways of carrying out regulation at the macro level, thus keeping the economy performing within an appropriate range.
Last year, we faced difficult choices in conducting macro-level regulation, but we stood firm in not adopting strong stimulus policies that would have had an economy-wide impact, and strived instead to maintain steady growth, adjust the structure, and guard against risks through reform and innovation. We strengthened targeted and well-timed regulation on the basis of range-based regulation.
More proactive fiscal policy was pursued, and the increase in the fiscal deficit was used mainly to cover tax and fee cuts. The trial replacement of business tax with value added tax (VAT) was extended to cover all sectors, slashing the tax burden of businesses for the year by over 570 billion yuan and reducing tax burdens in every sector. A transitional plan for sharing VAT revenue between the central and local governments was formulated and implemented to ensure financial resources of local governments remained unchanged. More local government bonds were issued to replace outstanding debts, reducing interest payments by roughly 400 billion yuan.
A prudent monetary policy was pursued in a flexible and appropriate manner.The M2 money supply increased by 11.3 percent, below our projected target of around 13 percent. We used a range of monetary policy tools to support the development of the real economy.
Measures were taken to upgrade consumption. We unveiled policies to encourage private investment, and saw investment begin to stabilize. We exercised category-based regulation over the real estate market. We strengthened efforts to manage financial risks. The RMB exchange rate regime continued to improve, and the exchange rate remained generally stable at an adaptive and equilibrium level. With these measures, we have safeguarded China’s economic and financial security.
Second, we focused on five priority tasks — cutting overcapacity, reducing excess inventory, deleveraging, lowering costs, and strengthening areas of weakness — thereby improving the composition of supply.
Particular priority was given to cutting overcapacity in the steel and coal sectors. Over the year, steel production capacity was cut by more than 65 million metric tons and coal by over 290 million metric tons, going beyond annual targets. Effective assistance was provided to laid-off employees.
We supported migrant workers in buying urban homes; and we increased the proportion of people affected by rebuilding in rundown urban areas receiving monetary compensation, making good progress in reducing real estate inventory.
Business acquisitions and reorganizations were encouraged, direct financing was promoted, and market- and law-based debt-to-equity swaps were carried out, lowering the debt-to-asset ratio of industrial enterprises.
To help enterprises lower operating costs, we introduced measures to cut taxes and fees, lower the share paid by enterprises for social security contributions(Notes: This includes old-age insurance, health insurance, unemployment insurance, workers’ compensation, maternity insurance, and housing provident fund schemes). We boosted efforts to strengthen areas of weakness and undertook major initiatives that both help to meet urgent needs today and promise long-term benefits.