China on Friday said it would not set a growth target for the current year as the country was working to ensure winning the battle against poverty.

Addressing the 13th National People’s Congress, China’s Prime Minister Li Keqiang said the decision of not setting a growth target was related to uncertainty due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Dropping a specific growth target was made because the country will face some factors that are difficult to predict in its development due to the great uncertainty regarding the COVID-19 pandemic and the world economic and trade environment,” he said, according to Xinhua news agency.

However, Li acknowledged that China will face historic challenges in the post-COVID-19 era.

“At present and for some time to come, China will face risks and challenges like never before,” Li said. “However, we have unique political and institutional strengths, a strong economic foundation, enormous market potential, and hundreds of millions of intelligent and hardworking people.”

The deadly infection was first reported in China’s Wuhan city last December and has claimed more than 333,000 lives in 188 countries and regions, while more than 5 million people have been infected.

“Not setting a specific target for economic growth will enable all of us to concentrate on ensuring stability on the six fronts and security in the six areas,” Li said.

Li said China will maintain security to deliver the stability needed to pursue progress “thus laying a solid foundation for accomplishing our goal of building a moderately prosperous society in all respects”.

Li was discussing the government work report submitted to the national legislature for deliberation which said China will focus on maintaining security in the financial sector, foreign trade, foreign investment, and domestic investment.

The report said these six areas refer to job security, basic living needs, operations of market entities, food and energy security, stable industrial and supply chains, and the normal functioning of primary-level governments.

“China will give priority to stabilizing employment and ensuring living standards,” the report maintained.

The report, however, set a target of 9 million new urban jobs in 2020 and keeping the surveyed urban unemployment rate at around 6%.

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