The world's second-largest economy also set its growth target for the next five years at a modest 6.5% or above.

China will raise its defence spending by seven to eight per cent this year, a top official said Friday, a smaller increase than the double-digit rises of the past as Beijing seeks a more efficient military.

The demand for exports has significantly reduced and growth last declined to a 25-year low of 6.9 percent.

BEIJING (AP) - China's leadership tried to quell anxiety about its slowing economy following financial turmoil and rising labor unrest as it cut its growth target Saturday and promised to open the oil and telecom industries to private competitors in sweeping industrial reforms.

"Our country's development faces more and greater difficulties, and more severe challenges this year, so we must be prepared for a tough battle", he told some 2,900 delegates of the National People's Congress (NPC).

"The global economic issue of the day is China's industrial restructuring and the consequences of the slow pace at which it is proceeding", Condon said.

In 2016, Beijing will aim for an economic growth rate between 6.5-7 per cent, as Reuters previously reported, with a consumer inflation target of around 3 per cent and money supply expansion of around 13 per cent, according to a series of draft reports distributed Saturday before the parliament opened.

The ongoing economic crisis is looming over the National People's Congress Annual Session being held at Beijing's Great Hall of the People, where 3,000 delegates are brainstorming about various economic and social problems confronting China. China's national chip champion, Tsinghua Unigroup, said last month that it would abandon its attempt to acquire a stake in California data storage firm Western Digital, the second deal it has scrapped because of opposition from US regulators who do not want sensitive technology to fall into Chinese hands.

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Presenting the government work report, he lauded how "China's soft power continued to grow" alongside the advancement of the rule of law and achievements "the military revolution with Chinese characteristics", Xinhua news agency reported. He said the city's government should further reduce its role in the market, giving market forces a full play in business activities.

"We are concerned, as it is intrinsically hard to consolidate production capacity while carrying out stimulus", Mizuho Securities Asia Ltd. economist Jianguang Shen said in a research note cited by the Journal.

"Downward pressure on the economy is growing".

"It will also help guide market expectations and keep them stable". The budget deficit forecast was raised to 3 percent of GDP from 2.3 percent in 2015.

He outlined a plan to deal with the bloated, out-dated state-owned industries such as steelworks, cement factories and coalmines, and said China would have to lay off millions to modernise its industries, although provision would be made for those losing their jobs.

He made similar vows concerning cross-strait relations in his work report to NPC last year, but this year he added "resolutely" to the statement against Taiwan's independence, a word that was lacking in his 2015 speech.

In a government-arranged interview the previous evening, Chen Zhou, a researcher at the Academy of Military Science, said a more modern army needed better training and this is where defense funds should be spent.