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Chinese security officials wear face masks to protect against the new coronavirus as they stand guard outside the Great Hall of the People after the opening session of China’s National People’s Congress (NPC) in Beijing. Ng Han Guan/AP hide caption

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China is scrapping its annual economic growth targets for the first time since 1990, when it started announcing such economic figures, as its leaders grapple with the economic fallout of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

In China’s centrally planned economy, Beijing’s GDP target serves as an all-important touchstone on which local governments and state enterprises fix their annual policies and investments.

China’s economy shrank 6.8% in the first quarter this year,

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