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China will push the economic development of Yangtze river delta and build an integrated transportation system along the river. The VAT rate will also decrease from 10 percent to nine percent for the transport and construction sectors.

Li said China's fiscal policy would become "more forceful", with planned cuts of almost 2 trillion yuan ($298.3 billion) in taxes and fees for companies.

Last year, the Chinese economy grew at its slowest pace since 1990, expanding by 6.6 percent in 2018.

To support growth, Li said China would closely monitor employment at exporting companies heavily exposed to the USA market and cut Value-Added Tax for the manufacturing sector to 13 percent from 16 percent.

China also aims to stimulate consumption with a consumer inflation target of about 3%, versus the current sub-2%.

The country's economic growth has recently slowed, in large part because of the trade war with the US.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang told the National People's Congress that his country was facing a "more complicated and more severe" backdrop despite Beijing closing in on a deal to end its trade war with the US.

Li also made no mention of the "Made in China 2025" technology blueprint, under which China has been attempting to create global leaders in advanced technologies at the state's initiative.

The rate marks a fourth straight year for the budgeted growth rate to dip into the single digit since 2016, following five consecutive years of double-digit increases, official news agency Xinhua reported.

However he still said the government wanted to promote IT, high-end equipment, biotech and next-gen automobiles and touted 'Buy China'.

"China has long maintained its military is for the defense of its borders but that definition has broadened over the years", Roggeveen said.

As the economy slows, the government has unveiled a military budget increase of 7.5 percent to 1.2 trillion yuan ($177.6 billion), lower than last year's 8.1 percent hike.

President Xi Jinping's government is expected to use this year's session to announce measures to support economic growth including tax cuts and more support for entrepreneurs who generate China's new jobs and wealth.

China lowered its goal for economic growth and announced a major tax cut, as policymakers seek to pull off a gradual deceleration while grappling with a debt legacy and the trade standoff with the U.S.

Unlike in previous years, there were no targets for retail sales growth or fixed-asset investment in the reports.

"We will implement the military strategy for the new era, strengthen military training under combat conditions, and firmly protect China's sovereignty, security, and development interests", he said.

Li tried to reassure investors by promising foreign companies will be "treated as equals" with Chinese enterprises in a "fair and impartial market environment".

Separately, China's top banking regulator said on Tuesday Beijing could "absolutely" reach an agreement with the United States on opening up its financial sector.


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