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China's provinces downgrade income growth targets

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BEIJING, Jan. 23 (Xinhua) -- Most of China's provincial regions have set lower targets for the growth of urban and rural incomes in 2014, in a sign of a more pragmatic outlook on the economic situation.

Eighteen provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities out of 26 that have released government work reports for 2014 by Wednesday downgraded expectations regarding per capita disposable income of urbanites or net income of rural dwellers.

China's western area made the biggest reduction. Sichuan and Gansu cut their growth targets by four percentage points, while Shaanxi, Inner Mongolia and Guangxi Zhuang did so by three percentage points.

Many provincial-level regions put their residents income growth target below their economic growth rate expectation.

Confronted with the downward pressure on the economy, lackluster domestic demand and dampened exports, local governments were prompted to be more modest when setting economic targets.

Of the 18 provincial regions that have downgraded expectations, 15 also targeted more humble growth rates in gross domestic product (GDP). North China's Tianjin is aiming for a 2014 growth of 11 percent, 1.5 percentage points lower than the 2013 target.

Zhang Yongjun, a researcher under the China Center for International Economic Exchanges, said local authorities have realized that the economic pace of the past can no longer be achieved.

However, weaker expectation will not necessarily lead to stagnation or lesser efforts to improve people's livelihood. With aims for a better-structured economy, provinces are taking actions that will benefit residents in real terms.

The government of Shanxi Province has raised its targets regarding living standards and technological innovation, such as newly added urban jobs and helping rural workers settle in cities.

The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) also said on its website that China will attach greater significance to the improvement of residents' income and reform of the income distribution system, promising people's income would keep abreast of the GDP increase.

In 2013, the per capita disposable income of urban dwellers gained 7 percent year on year to 26,955 yuan (4,411 U.S. dollars). Growth basically matched the 7.1-percent expansion of per capita GDP (inflation factor deducted).

China's economy grew 7.7 percent last year, the same as in 2012, exceeding the government target of 7.5 percent, NBS data showed.

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