China sets lowest growth target in decades as COVID lockdown effects linger
China fell well short of its economic growth target last year
The Chinese government set its lowest annual growth expectation in decades on Sunday as the country grapples with the lingering effects of President Xi Jinping's aggressive COIVD-19 lockdowns.
China's Ministry of Finance set its growth target to 5% on Sunday, marking the lowest expectation in more than 25 years, The Wall Street Journal reported Sunday. The modest target reflects China coming to grips with reality after falling well short of its 5.5% growth target in 2022, with the country only reaching 3%.
The new growth target comes after China finally abandoned Xi's "zero-COVID" policies, which saw widespread lockdowns and quarantines for Chinese workers.
Chinese citizens chaffed under the lockdowns, and many workers took to the streets in protest in late 2022, leading to more relaxed policies.
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Workers at the world's largest iPhone factory fought with police in hazmat suits in Zhengzhou in November. Footage spread quickly across social media despite efforts from censors.
China's modest expectations for its economy come in contrast to its growing military budget, which received a 7.2% increase this year. The budget now sits at $230 billion, up nearly $16 billion from its total in 2022.
China's budget increase follows a year of unprecedented tension between China and the U.S. and Taiwan. CIA Director William Burns stated last month that Chinese President Xi Jinping has ordered his military to be ready to invade Taiwan by 2027.
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The U.S. has already delivered hundreds of millions of dollars worth of military aid to Taiwan.