China has set a target of 7.5 percent economic growth this year, down from the 2011 goal of eight percent, according to an advance copy of a speech to be delivered by Premier Wen Jiabao on Monday.
The Asian powerhouse expanded by 9.2 percent last year, slowing from 10.4 percent in 2010, as global turbulence and efforts to tame high inflation put the brakes on growth.
The lower target is an acknowledgement that the world's second-largest economy is slowing as the eurozone debt crisis and the sluggish recovery in the United States hurt demand for Chinese exports.
China typically exceeds the annual growth target unveiled every March, and most economists are predicting gross domestic product growth of 8.0-8.5 percent for China this year.
The country has also set its inflation target at 4.0 percent for 2012, unchanged from last year, after consumer prices surged 5.4 percent for all of 2011.
The 10-day gathering of the National People's Congress (NPC) in Beijing's Great Hall of the People begins with a "state of the nation" speech from Wen who will outline the government's priorities for 2012.
The NPC is the last before a leadership change that begins in the autumn and senior leaders are anxious to ensure the economy grows at a fast pace while keeping a lid on social unrest.© ANP/AFP