Reuters – Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao cut his nation’s 2012 growth target to an eight-year low of 7.5 percent and made boosting consumer demand the year’s first priority as Beijing looks to wean the economy off its reliance on external demand and foreign capital.
The premier named “expanding consumer demand” as his first priority for 2012, when the ruling Communist Party must also navigate a leadership handover that will send Wen and President Hu Jintao into retirement in 2013.
“We will improve policies that encourage consumption,” Wen told nearly 3,000 delegates of the Communist Party-controlled legislature, gathered under the harsh lights and high ceilings of the Great Hall of the People.
“We will vigorously adjust income distribution, increase the incomes of low- and middle-income groups, and enhance people’s ability to consume,” said Wen.
Wen has stood out among China’s leaders as the most persistent advocate of measured political relaxation, and has cast himself as a passionate advocate for farmers struggling with economic insecurity and land lost to developers.