China parliament backs cut in economic growth

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Media captionChinese Premier Li Keqiang described growth target reductions as "painful", as Carrie Gracie reports

China's parliament has endorsed government plans to reduce the country's economic growth target by half a percent, to 7%.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang acknowledged it would not be easy and described it as "taking a knife to our own flesh".

The BBC's Martin Patience in Beijing says China's leaders want to transform the economy by pursuing slower but more sustainable growth.

He says they want to make clear the days of double-digit growth have ended.

"This is not nail-clipping. This is like taking a knife to one's own flesh," Mr Li told a news conference after a session of the National People's Congress ended in Beijing.

"But however painful it might be, we are determined to keep going until our job is done."

Pollution crackdown

China's economy expanded by 7.4% last year from 7.7% in 2013, following a cooling of the property market, slowing factory activity and easing business and government investment.

Growth of 7% in 2015 will mark the country's weakest expansion in a quarter of a century.

Mr Li also highlighted targets for tackling pollution.

Our correspondent says China's leaders face growing public anger over high levels of pollution caused by the country's turbo-charged development.

"Enforcement of environmental laws should not be a cotton swab but a killer mace," Mr Li said.

He vowed to hold factories that polluted the atmosphere liable for excessive emissions.

"It's a project in which everyone in the society should take responsibility," Mr Li said. "If you cannot change the environment you are in, you can modify your behaviours."

The National People's Congress largely serves as a platform for China's ruling Communist Party to highlight reforms and set the tone for government policy.

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