A two-hour speech, as dry as tradition demands, but not a mention of the expected additional stimulus spending.
In his annual report to the National People’s Congress, Prime Minister Wen Jiabao ran through familiar economic themes and numbers:
it would be the most difficult year China has faced;
8% GDP growth was the target, raising domestic demand a goal, 9 million new jobs the aim;
the 22% increase in central government spending will go on infrastructure; local governments will largely finance a 23% rise in spending on education and of 38% in health care;
the budget deficit would be a record 950 billion yuan, or 3% of GDP;
corruption would be rooted out and social unrest triggered by unemployment (9 million urban jobs would be lost) would be closely monitored: “We will improve the early warning system for social stability to actively prevent and properly handle all types of mass incidents,” Wen said.
Perhaps the most telling line was that “As long as we adopt the right policies and appropriate measures and implement them effectively, we will be able to achieve [the 8% growth] target,” suggesting that the government feels its 4 trillion yuan November stimulus package is working, and that it doesn’t need to top it up, at least not at this point.