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From December 10 to 13, the Chinese government held its economic conference, its highest-level annual economic meeting at which leaders map the government’s major economic tasks for the coming year.

At the conference, the government set its 2014 GDP target at 7.5 percent, the same as in 2013. The figure was slightly higher than the 7 percent analysts had predicted before the conference. Analysts believed a lower GDP target would allow more space for the latest round of reforms, while the government, according to State media, aims to stabilize employment with medium-to-high economic growth.

Rather than focusing on growth speed, policymakers have emphasized that a progressive strategy is needed to push forward reform. “We should not define ‘development’ as ‘GDP growth.’ What we want is a speed that can ensure economic growth without any side effects,” read a statement from the conference.

Guided by this principle, the government has tried to recover the losses sustained due to overdevelopment in previous years, calling for tighter controls on problems including overcapacity, mounting local debt and insatiable urban construction. For the first time, the government emphasized the need for a higher “quality” of urbanization, pledging to allow rural migrants to enjoy the same rights as those holding a permanent urban residence permit.

Analysts are therefore predicting that the government will soon launch reform at regional and industrial levels, but wider reaching reform will not be implemented until policymakers come to an agreement and work out a detailed plan.


Britain in China

British Prime Minister David Cameron made an official visit to China from December 2 to 4, in an effort to improve Sino-British relations, which had been strained since Cameron’s meeting with the Dalai Lama last May.

The state visit had a notably“civilian” theme, as Cameron took photos with Chinese entrepreneurs, had lunch at an ordinary restaurant in Chengdu, capital of Sichuan Province, and played ping-pong with local students. He also opened a microblog account on China’s Twitter equivalent, Weibo, which now has over 500,000 fans.

Cameron’s visit earned significant economic benefits –he returned home with commercial agreements worth six billion pounds (US$9.8bn), covering the fields of sports, automobiles, tourism and trade.

In response, Cameron pledged not to meet with the Dalai Lama again in the near future, and also became the first European leader openly to support China’s promotion of free trade zone negotiations between China and Europe.