China's Xi says GDP growth no less than 6.5% until 2020: Reports

Chinese President Xi Jinping.
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Chinese President Xi Jinping.

China's President Xi Jinping has said the country's economic growth rate will not be less than 6.5 percent in the five years to 2020, Reuters reported Tuesday, citing the state-run Xinhua news agency.

Beijing needs average growth of close to 7 percent over the next five years to hit a previously declared goal of doubling gross domestic product and per capita income by 2020 from 2010.

But its leaders have been tempering growth expectations in recent months. Premier Li Keqiang has noted last month that China had never set 7 percent growth in stone, while a top People's Bank of China (PBOC) official said that the country would be able to keep economic growth at around 6-7 percent this year.

Authorities have already taken steps to prop up the economy, with the PBOC cutting interest rates for the sixth time this year late last month.

The PBOC also freed up the interest rate market by scrapping a ceiling on deposit rates, and cut the reserve ratio requirement that dictates how much capital banks must hold.

China reported late last month gross domestic product (GDP) growth of 6.9 percent for the third quarter and the fourth quarter likely began on a soft note, with closely eyed gauges of manufacturing activity in China staying below in October the threshold that separates expansion from contraction.

Reuters contributed to this report.