Chinese Premier Li Keqiang speaks during a press conference after the closing ceremony of the National People's Congress in Beijing's Great Hall of the People, China, Thursday, March 13, 2014. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)
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Chinese Premier Li Keqiang warned Thursday that the economy faces "severe challenges" in 2014 – comments that came as weak data fanned speculation the central bank would relax monetary policy to support stuttering growth.At the carefully orchestrated briefing where questions had to be vetted in advance, Li spent most time discussing the economy.While acknowledging the economy faced difficulties, Li suggested Beijing would not let growth slip too far. The government has targeted a rise of GDP in 2014 of 7.5 percent after actual growth last year of 7.7 percent.Growth in Chinese corporate debt has been unprecedented.Li skillfully dodged a question on how far Beijing would let economic growth slip before it steps in with policy measures to support activity.Beijing wants to create 10 million new jobs in 2014 and Li has said that the economy must grow 7.2 percent annually to do that. Some 13 million new jobs were created last year when the economy grew 7.7 percent.On government corruption, Li had an unequivocal answer.
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