On behalf of the State Council, I will now report to you on the work of the government and ask for your deliberation and approval. I also wish to have comments on my report from the members of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC).
Let me begin with a review of our work in 2016.
In the past year, China's development has faced grave challenges posed by a great many problems and interwoven risks and dangers both at home and abroad. However, under the strong leadership of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core, we the Chinese people have risen to the challenge and worked hard to press ahead, driving forward sustained, healthy economic and social development.
At the Sixth Plenary Session of the 18th Party Central Committee, the core position of General Secretary Xi Jinping was formally affirmed, which reflects the fundamental interests of the Party and the Chinese people, and is of crucial and far-reaching significance for ensuring the flourishing and long-term stability of the Party and the country. All regions and all government departments have steadily strengthened their consciousness of the need to maintain political integrity, think in big-picture terms, uphold the leadership core, and keep in alignment. Pushing ahead with all-around efforts, we have achieved major progress in finishing building a moderately prosperous society in all respects, made important strides in deepening reform, continued to exercise law-based governance, and made further progress in practicing strict Party self-governance; and we have accomplished the year's main tasks and targets for economic and social development, and got the 13th Five-Year Plan off to a great start.
The economy has registered a slower but stable performance with good momentum for growth.
GDP reached 74.4 trillion yuan, representing 6.7-percent growth, and seeing China outpace most other economies. China contributed more than 30 percent of global growth. The CPI rose by 2 percent. With an 8.5-percent increase in profits, industrial enterprises reversed the previous year's negative growth of 2.3 percent. Energy consumption per unit of GDP fell by 5 percent. Economic performance improved markedly in quality and returns.
Employment growth exceeded projections.
A total of 13.14 million new urban jobs were added over the course of the year. The number of college graduates finding employment or starting businesses reached another record high. The registered urban unemployment rate stood at 4.02 percent at year-end 2016, the lowest level in years. For China, a large developing country with a population of over 1.3 billion, attaining this level of employment is no easy task.
Continued advances were made in reform and opening up.
Breakthroughs were made in reforms in major sectors and key links, and initial success was achieved in supply-side structural reform. New measures were introduced for opening China up, rapid progress was made in pursuing the Belt and Road Initiative, and a number of major projects and industrial-capacity cooperation projects with other countries were launched.
Economic structural adjustment was stepped up.
Consumption was the main driver of economic growth. The value created by the service sector rose to 51.6 percent of GDP. High-tech industries and equipment manufacturing grew rapidly. In agriculture, production was stable and structural adjustments were made, and we had continued good grain harvests.
New drivers of growth gained strength.
Further progress was made in pursuing the innovation-driven development strategy, and a number of world-leading achievements were made in science and technology. Emerging industries were thriving, and the transformation and upgrading of traditional industries accelerated. People were busy launching businesses or making innovations, with a 24.5-percent year-on-year increase in the number of new businesses registered-an average of 15,000 new businesses daily. With self-employed traders and other market entities included we had an average of 45,000 new market entities launched per day. New growth drivers are opening new prospects for China's development.
Infrastructure became ever-better able to sustain development.
Over 1,900 kilometers of new high-speed rail lines came into service, and more than 6,700 kilometers of expressways and 290,000 kilometers of rural roads were built or upgraded. Construction picked up pace on urban rail transit facilities and underground utility tunnels. Construction began on 21 major water conservancy projects. The number of 4G mobile communications subscribers grew by 340 million and over 5.5 million kilometers of optical fiber cables were added.
Living standards were improved.
Personal per capita disposable income increased by 6.3 percent in real terms. The number of people living in poverty in rural areas was reduced by 12.4 million, including more than 2.4 million people relocated from inhospitable areas. More than 6 million homes in rundown urban areas and over 3.8 million dilapidated rural houses were renovated. In tourism, domestic trips showed rapid growth, and overseas trips exceeded 120 million. People in both urban and rural areas saw arise in living standards.
我国成功主办二十国集团领导人杭州峰会，推动取得一系列开创性、引领性、机制性重要成果，在全球经济治理中留下深刻的中国印记。 China successfully hosted the G20 2016 Hangzhou Summit, and helped to deliver a number of important pioneering, leading, and institutional outcomes, thus doing its part for global economic governance.
2016 was an unusual year in our country's development. China was confronted with an external environment in which the world saw the lowest economic and trade growth in seven years, growing volatility in global financial markets, and sudden and frequent regional and global challenges. Domestically, China faced multiple difficulties: major structural problems, prominent risks and dangers, and mounting downward pressure on the economy. China found itself in a complex environment as reform entered a critical stage, profound changes took place affecting interests, and factors impacting social stability grew.
Given all these factors, it was not easy for us to maintain stable economic performance. And yet we succeeded, and even managed to make progress on many fronts. Once again, this shows that we the Chinese people have the courage, ingenuity, and ability to overcome any difficulty or hardship. It also shows that the Chinese economy possesses potential, resilience, and strengths, so we can be sure there is even better development ahead for China.
I will now move on to discuss our main work last year:
First, we continued to develop new and more effective ways of carrying out regulation at the macro level, thus keeping the economy performing within an appropriate range.
Last year, we faced difficult choices in conducting macro-level regulation, but we stood firm in not adopting strong stimulus policies that would have had an economy-wide impact, and strived instead to maintain steady growth, adjust the structure, and guard against risks through reform and innovation. We strengthened targeted and well-timed regulation on the basis of range-based regulation.
More proactive fiscal policy was pursued, and the increase in the fiscal deficit was used mainly to cover tax and fee cuts. The trial replacement of business tax with value added tax (VAT) was extended to cover all sectors, slashing the tax burden of businesses for the year by over 570 billion yuan and reducing tax burdens in every sector. A transitional plan for sharing VAT revenue between the central and local governments was formulated and implemented to ensure financial resources of local governments remained unchanged. More local government bonds were issued to replace outstanding debts, reducing interest payments by roughly 400 billion yuan.
A prudent monetary policy was pursued in a flexible and appropriate manner. The M2 money supply increased by 11.3 percent, below our projected target of around 13 percent. We used a range of monetary policy tools to support the development of the real economy.
Measures were taken to upgrade consumption. We unveiled policies to encourage private investment, and saw investment begin to stabilize. We exercised category-based regulation over the real estate market. We strengthened efforts to manage financial risks. The RMB exchange rate regime continued to improve, and the exchange rate remained generally stable at an adaptive and equilibrium level. With these measures, we have safeguarded China's economic and financial security.
Second, we focused on five priority tasks -- cutting overcapacity, reducing excess inventory, deleveraging, lowering costs, and strengthening areas of weakness -- thereby improving the composition of supply.
Particular priority was given to cutting overcapacity in the steel and coal sectors. Over the year, steel production capacity was cut by more than 65 million metric tons and coal by over 290 million metric tons, going beyond annual targets. Effective assistance was provided to laid-off employees.
We supported migrant workers in buying urban homes; and we increased the proportion of people affected by rebuilding in rundown urban areas receiving monetary compensation, making good progress in reducing real estate inventory.
Business acquisitions and reorganizations were encouraged, direct financing was promoted, and market- and law-based debt-to-equity swaps were carried out, lowering the debt-to-asset ratio of industrial enterprises.
To help enterprises lower operating costs, we introduced measures to cut taxes and fees, lower the share paid by enterprises for social security contributions,(1) and cut the price of electricity.
We boosted efforts to strengthen areas of weakness and undertook major initiatives that both help to meet urgent needs today and promise long-term benefits.
Third, we worked hard to deepen reform and opening up, further strengthening the vitality of development.
Reform was deepened across the board, and a good number of landmark and pillar reform initiatives were undertaken.
To balance the government-market relationship -- the pivotal issue in economic structural reform -- we continued reforms to streamline administration, delegate powers, and improve regulation and services. My administration's goal of cutting the number of items requiring government review by a third had been achieved ahead of schedule. On that basis, last year we cancelled the requirement on a further 165 items for review by State Council departments and authorized local governments. We also overhauled and standardized 192 items of intermediary services for government review as well as 220 items of approvals and accreditations for professional qualifications. We deepened institutional reforms in the business sector. We introduced an oversight model of random inspection and public release across the board,(2) made operational and post-operational oversight more effective, and promoted the Internet Plus government services model.
We pushed ahead with reforms to restructure and reorganize state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and introduce into them mixed ownership structures. We established a review system to ensure fair competition. We deepened resource tax reforms.
We improved measures for separating rural land ownership rights, contract rights, and management rights, and established a mechanism for determining whether people have been lifted out of poverty. We made progress in reforming the science and technology management system, gave greater autonomy to colleges and research institutes, and adopted profit distribution policies oriented toward increasing the value of knowledge. We opened up the elderly services market. We expanded the trials of comprehensive reforms in public hospitals and deepened reform of the evaluation and approval systems for medicine and medical equipment.
We formulated unified measures to determine and register natural resource rights. We piloted reforms for conducting direct oversight by provincial-level environmental protection agencies over the environmental monitoring and inspection work of environmental protection agencies below the provincial level, as well as crop rotation and fallow land reforms. The river chief system was introduced for all lakes and rivers across the country, and the mechanisms for compensating for ecological conservation efforts were improved. Reform has given new impetus to economic and social development.
We opened China wider to the rest of the world. As we pushed ahead with the Belt and Road Initiative, we worked to increase complementarity between the development strategies of, and practical cooperation between, China and other countries along the routes.
The RMB was formally included in the IMF's Special Drawing Rights basket. The Shenzhen-Hong Kong Stock Connect was launched. We improved measures for promoting trade, and built 12 new integrated experimental zones for cross-border e-commerce, bringing about a steady recovery in the volume of import and export.
The new practices of pilot free trade zones in Shanghai and elsewhere were used to establish another seven pilot zones. The requirement for review and approval for setting up and making significant adjustments to foreign enterprises was replaced by a simple filing process, with the exception of a few areas where special market access requirements apply. In 2016, China utilized more than US$130 billion of overseas investment, continuing to rank first among developing countries.
Fourth, we strengthened innovation's leading role, spurring the rapid development of new growth drivers.
We took further steps to implement the Internet Plus action plan and the national big data strategy, fully implemented the Made in China 2025 initiative, and implemented and improved policies and measures to encourage people to launch businesses and innovate. We developed and launched a plan for completing major science and technology programs by 2030, supported Beijing and Shanghai in building themselves into global R&D centers, and established another six national innovation demonstration zones.
China's R&D spending reached 2.08 percent of GDP. The number of in-force Chinese patents issued in China passed the million mark, and the value of technology transactions exceeded one trillion yuan. The contribution of scientific and technological progress to economic growth rose to 56.2 percent, and innovation's role in powering development grew markedly.
Fifth, we promoted more balanced development between regions and between rural and urban areas, and saw faster emergence of new growth poles and growth belts.
We stepped up work to implement the three strategic initiatives (the Belt and Road, Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei integration, and the Yangtze Economic Belt), and began construction on a number of key projects. We formulated the plan for the 13th Five-Year Plan period for large-scale development in the western region, launched a new round of initiatives as part of the Northeast revitalization strategy, drove progress in the rise of the central region, and supported the eastern region in leading the rest of the country in pursuing development. We sped up efforts to promote new types of urbanization, deepened reform of the household registration system, introduced the residence card system nationwide, and granted urban residency to another 16 million people from rural areas. The synergy building through coordinated development became more and more evident.
Sixth, we strengthened ecological conservation and made fresh progress in pursuing green development.
We formulated and introduced measures for assessing progress made in ecological improvement, and established national pilot zones for ecological conservation. We took stronger measures against air pollution and, as a result, saw a 5.6-percent decline in sulfur dioxide emissions, a 4-percent cut in nitrogen oxide emissions, and a 9.1-percent drop in the annual average density of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) in 74 key cities. We continued to improve the energy mix, increasing the share of clean energy consumption by 1.7 percentage points and cutting the share of coal consumption by 2 percentage points.
We continued efforts to prevent and control water pollution, and adopted an action plan for preventing and controlling soil pollution. Central government inspections on environmental protection accountability were launched and violations of environmental protection laws were investigated and prosecuted, giving impetus to deeper efforts to protect the environment.
Seventh, we gave particular attention to ensuring and improving living standards, helping Chinese people gain a stronger sense of benefit.
Despite growing pressure from fiscal imbalance, we continued to increase inputs in areas related to living standards. We launched new policies on employment and business startups, and carried out solid work on increasing employment for key target groups and priority regions. We made all-around progress in key battles to eradicate poverty and earmarked over 100 billion yuan from government budgets for poverty relief. We increased subsistence allowances, benefits for entitled groups, basic pension payments, and other subsidies; and over 17 million people benefited through the provision of cost-of-living allowances for people with disabilities in financial difficulty and nursing care subsidies for people with severe disabilities.
Fiscal spending on education continued to be over 4 percent of GDP. The number of students from poor rural areas enrolled in key universities grew by 21.3 percent. We waived tuition and miscellaneous fees for students from poor rural families at regular senior high schools. Over the course of the year, more than 84 million grants were given to students from poor families studying in all types of schools.
The basic health insurance systems for rural and nonworking urban residents were merged and government subsidies for the system were increased. More funding was provided for basic public health services. Full coverage of the serious disease insurance scheme was achieved, and healthcare costs meeting relevant provisions can now be settled on the spot when incurred anywhere within the provincial-level administrative area where insurance is registered.
We increased public cultural services at the community level. The Fitness for All initiative was launched, and Chinese athletes gave an excellent performance at the Olympic Games and Paralympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
Last year, parts of the country, especially the Yangtze basin, were hit by severe flooding and other disasters. We acted quickly to provide effective rescue and relief, swiftly relocated over 9 million people, minimized damage and loss, and made systematic progress with recovery and reconstruction efforts.
Eighth, we continued to enhance government performance and improve governance, thus ensuring social harmony and stability.
The State Council submitted 13 legislative proposals to the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) for approval and adopted or revised 8 sets of administrative regulations. We improved mechanisms for drawing on public opinions in decision making on public issues and worked with keen attention to handle the proposals and suggestions of NPC deputies and CPPCC National Committee members. We made progress in strengthening government transparency by releasing lists of the powers and responsibilities of all provincial-level government departments.
We intensified accountability inspections. The third State Council accountability inspection was carried out; special inspections and third-party evaluations were conducted on the implementation of policies related to cutting overcapacity and encouraging private investment; and new steel projects launched in breach of regulations and the production and sale of substandard steel products were strictly investigated and dealt with.
We strengthened workplace safety efforts and saw a continued decline in the total number of accidents and in the number of accidents of a serious nature.
We took comprehensive measures to maintain law and order and, in accordance with law, cracked down on crime and other violations, effectively safeguarding national and public security.
We carried out in earnest activities to enable Party members to gain a good understanding of the Party Constitution, Party regulations, and General Secretary Xi Jinping's major policy addresses and to meet Party standards. We worked scrupulously to ensure compliance with the Party Central Committee's eight-point decision on improving Party and government conduct, took firm action to address formalism, bureaucratism, hedonism, and extravagance, and rigorously enforced the State Council's three-point decision on curbing government spending. We punished a number of corrupt officials in accordance with law, and the fight against corruption has built up irresistible momentum.
As a major country, China has made outstanding achievements in its diplomacy with distinctive features over the past year. President Xi Jinping and other Chinese leaders visited many countries. They attended major international events, including the 24th APEC Economic Leaders Meeting, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization Summit, the BRICS Leaders Meeting, the Nuclear Security Summit, high-level meetings of the 71st session of the UN General Assembly, the Asia-Europe Meeting, and the East Asian leaders meetings on cooperation. We hosted the first-ever Lancang-Mekong Cooperation Leaders Meeting.
China's coordination and cooperation with other major countries were strengthened, its comprehensive cooperation with neighboring countries continued to be boosted, its friendship and cooperation with other developing countries were deepened, and its interactions with the UN and other international organizations became closer.
China was actively involved in reforming and improving the global governance system. We played our part in ensuring that the Paris Agreement was put into force. Economic diplomacy and personal and cultural exchanges yielded notable outcomes. We were resolute in upholding China's sovereignty, territorial integrity, and maritime rights and interests. As a responsible major country, China has been playing a constructive role in international and regional issues and has made significant contributions to world peace and development.
We celebrated the 95th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China and the 80th anniversary of the victory of the Long March of the Chinese Workers and Peasants Red Army, demonstrating our unshakeable will to remain true to the founding mission of the Party, to keep pressing ahead, and to overcome all difficulties, and showing the firm determination of all Chinese people to keep up our stride on the new Long March and continue striving for new victories.
We owe all the achievements made over the past year to the sound leadership of the Party Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core and the concerted efforts of the Party, the military, and the people of all our nation's ethnic groups. On behalf of the State Council, I wish to express our sincere gratitude to all our people, including public figures from all sectors of society, and to other parties and people's organizations. I express our sincere appreciation to our fellow countrymen and women in the Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions and in Taiwan, and to Chinese nationals overseas. I also wish to express our heartfelt thanks to the governments of other countries, international organizations, and friends from all over the world who have shown understanding and support for China in its endeavor to modernize.
Yet we must not lose sight of the many problems and challenges China faces in pursuing economic and social development. The internal forces driving economic growth need to be strengthened. Overcapacity poses a serious challenge in some industries. Some enterprises face difficulties in their production and operations. Economic prospects for different regions are divergent. Fiscal imbalance is becoming great. And potential economic and financial risks cannot be overlooked.
Environmental pollution remains grave, and in particular, some areas are frequently hit by heavy smog. We need to further strengthen our steps to combat pollution. There are also many problems causing public concern in housing, education, healthcare, elderly care, food and drug safety, and income distribution. It is distressing that there were some major accidents in the coal mining, construction, and transportation sectors.
There is still room for improvement in government performance. Some reform policies and measures have not been fully implemented. Excess fees and charges being levied on businesses and difficulties facing individuals who want to access government services remain standout problems. We still see problems of laws and regulations being enforced in a non-standard, unfair, or uncivil way. A small number of government employees are lazy and neglectful of their duties or shirk responsibility. Corruption often occurs in some sectors.
We must confront these challenges head-on, be ready to bear the weight of responsibility, and do our all to deliver. We must fulfill our historic mission and live up to the great trust placed in us by the Chinese people.