China is cutting its growth target to 7.5 percent in 2012, the lowest level in eight years.
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao unveiled the new target at a meeting of the National People's Congress, the BBC said. It said the country is lowering the target so that it can lay the groundwork for more sustainable expansion, prepare for new leadership and rideout the slowdown in the world economy.
China has set its growth target at 8 percent for the past eight years but regularly beat that pace, spurring problems with inflation and widening the nation's wealth gap, the BBC noted.
"I wish to stress that in setting a slightly lower GDP growth rate, we hope... to guide people in all sectors to focus their work on accelerating the transformation of the pattern of economic development and making economic development more sustainable and efficient," the BBC quoted Wen as saying.
China's economy grew 9.2 percent in 2011, according to the International Monetary Fund.
The target, which the Guardian calls a largely symbolic number, is influenced in part by China's expectations that exports to Europe could fall as a result of the European debt crisis. But the Guardian said it also signals an effort to make the country's strong economic growth more sustainable.
The IMF in a report last month said it expected the Chinese economy to grow by 8.25 percent in 2012, down from an earlier estimate of 9 percent.