China’s Xi hails ‘resilient’ economy in bullish New Year speech

BEIJING: President Xi Jinping said on Sunday (Dec 31) the Chinese economy had grown “more resilient and dynamic” in 2023, despite financial figures continuing to disappoint as the post-COVID recovery stalls.

He also promised in a bullish New Year’s address to the nation that China would “surely be reunified” – a reference to the self-ruled island of Taiwan, which Beijing claims as its own and has pledged to seize.

Xi has endured a challenging 2023 at the helm of the world’s second-largest economy, with his administration struggling to sustain an economic rebound since rapidly dumping its onerous zero-COVID policy a year ago.

But Xi said on state broadcaster CCTV the economy had “weathered the storm” and become “more resilient and dynamic than before”, hailing the promotion of “high-quality development” and emerging industries such as electric vehicles, lithium batteries and solar panels.

He said next year “we must … consolidate and enhance the positive trend of economic recovery, and achieve long-term economic stability”.

Yet he also acknowledged some hardship, saying “some companies are facing operating pressure (and) some people are encountering difficulties in employment and living conditions”.

“All of these things concern me greatly,” he said.

“Our goal is both ambitious and yet very simple. In the end, it is to help people live better lives.”

Record youth unemployment and a persistent debt crisis in the crucial property sector have hemmed in China’s growth this year.

Official figures released on Sunday showed a decline in nationwide factory activity deepened in December, the third straight month of contraction.

Analysts have said Beijing may struggle to achieve its stated annual growth target of around five per cent, the lowest such ambition in years.

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