It's that time of year again: The parliamentary spectacle that is China's National People's Congress has kicked off with the government's annual economic growth target.
That magic number — "around 6.5 percent, or higher if possible" — was announced by Premier Li Keqiang, who delivered his version of a "state of the union" address on Sunday. If China delivers growth at that pace this year, it would be slower than the 6.7 percent expansion last year.
China, the world's second-largest economy, is in the spotlight as the government works to maneuver a difficult transition, moving away from growth led by manufacturing and exports, and toward the services sectors. It's easier said than done, especially in the face of a broadly sluggish global economy, as Li highlighted.
The tone of Li's speech toed the line, emphasizing some reforms while maintaining optimism and stability, which is a major government priority in the run-up to a major leadership shuffle this fall.
"Policymakers have faced a hard trade-off. On the one hand, they need short-term growth stability to focus on political power consolidation," said Macquarie analyst Larry Hu. "On the other hand, they also need long-term growth sustainability."