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China to emphasize higher quality growth in 2018

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China to emphasize higher quality growth in 2018

China’s growth targets for 2018 will have a greater focus on higher quality development, the government’s public relations arm has told Reuters.

The new growth targets will reflect changes in the economy, moving away from previous practice of focusing on headline numbers, the newswire reported, citing the State Council Information Office.

The new goals will be placed by the government "after earnestly studying new performance, new situations and new problems", the office said in response to a Reuters request for comment.

"China’s economic and social development still faces many contradictions and challenges that need to be seriously resolved and dealt with," it added.

China’s leaders are likely to maintain this year's growth target of "around 6.5%" for 2018 at a meeting this month, but the decision will most likely be announced in March 2018, Reuters noted.

The country's economic expansion slipped to a 26-year low of 6.7% in 2016, but improved in the first three quarters of 2017 to 6.9%. Analysts forecast full year 2017 growth to beat the official growth target on the back of increased state spending, a construction boom and climbing exports, the newswire said.

However, a slowdown to 6.4% is expected in 2018 as government measures to tackle mounting debt gather pace, economists polled by Reuters said.

The official announcement of focus toward quality is in line with the International Monetary Fund's advice for Beijing to move away from the long-held practice of quantity based targets, and also echoes recent statements from President Xi Jinping and other officials.

Xi's focus on qualitative growth will result in a greater emphasis on promoting productivity and reducing financial vulnerability, Moody's said in a report published Oct. 27, a credit positive for the sovereign, as well as "most banks and corporates."