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The Latest: China promises all companies treated as equals

March 5, 2019
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A Chinese military conductor gestures as he instructs his music band members during a rehearsal for the opening session of the China's National People's Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Tuesday, March 5, 2019. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

BEIJING (AP) — The Latest on the annual meeting of China’s Congress (all times local):

9:30 a.m.

China’s top economic official is promising all companies are to be ‘treated as equals’ in a bid to defuse U.S. and European trade complaints.

Premier Li Keqiang made the pledge in a speech Tuesday at the opening of China’s national legislative session.

Li also said this year’s growth target was set at 6 to 6.5 percent. That is off slightly from last year’s 6.6 percent growth, a three-decade low, but would be among the world’s strongest if achieved.

The announcement reflects official determination to shore up slowing economic activity in the face of U.S. tariff hikes and cooling global demand.

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9 a.m.

China’s government has trimmed this year’s economic growth target to a relatively robust 6 to 6.5 percent amid a tariff battle with Washington and a slowdown in global growth.

The growth target announced Tuesday at the opening of the ceremonial national legislature is down slightly from 2018′s three-decade low growth of 6.6 percent. But it would be among the world’s strongest expansions if achieved.

The announcement comes amid a tariff battle with Washington and slowing global demand for Chinese exports.

The finance ministry also said the country’s defense budget this year will rise 7.5 percent.

Chinese authorities are expected to use the congress to highlight measures intended to support economic growth. Legislators also are due to endorse a change in rules on technology in response to U.S. and European pressure.