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Innovation key to new economic growth, Xi says

President Xi Jinping said the country must quickly transform its economy using an innovation-driven strategy to achieve growth targets. 

On a visit to universities and high-tech companies in Hunan province on Monday and Tuesday, the president said the country should develop innovations as well as science and technology to re-energize economic growth. 

To drive an economic transformation forward, China must pass structural reforms and absorb the excess production capacity found in industrial sectors, he said.

During a meeting with officials from Hunan province, Xi said the country should find a balance between GDP growth and development. He added that the government should not equate development to GDP growth and simply use GDP rankings as the only evaluation standard for officials. 

The government has set the year's GDP growth target at 7.5 percent with inflation at less than 3.5 percent.

Xi said if the growth target is not within a reasonable scope, the country will overreach on its resources, capital and financial markets. 

In Changsha, the provincial capital, Xi visited the Lens Technology Co, a producer of touchscreen glass panels, and the Wasion Group, a leading supplier of energy measurement equipment in China. 

Xi said the task of transforming the economy will fall on every company in the country. He called on companies to capitalize on China's industrial revolution to create innovations in science and technology, management, marketing and branding. 

During his visit, Xi learned about the latest research at two key State laboratories at Central South University. He lauded the work by scientists at a powder metallurgy lab, a facility whose research has contributed to the country's space program. He was also briefed on the recycling and purification of wastewater created by metal companies at the university's heavy metal pollution prevention research center. 

Ma Ying, a doctoral candidate at the research center, said the president's visit exemplifies the country's commitment to energy and the environment. 

"We also hope that the country will further increase its support for research at universities, especially in energy conservation," she was quoted as saying by a university report.

Xi's two-day visit comes five days ahead of the Third Plenary Session of the 18th Communist Party of China Central Committee, at which senior members of the Party are expected to pass a set of economic reform measures. 

Zhu Lijia, a public administration professor at the Chinese Academy of Governance, said the president is pushing for a new model of development that is for the public's benefit.

"The message is that economic development will remain the primary focus," he said. 

Zhu said Xi is also calling for a shift away from an economic model based solely on GDP growth. 

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