China on Wednesday set its growth target for 2014 at 7.5 percent, equal to last year's target, and said it remains focused on moving the country toward a more sustainable economic model.

China also will strive to ensure the inflation rate does not exceed 3.5 percent, Prime Minister Li Keqiang said in a speech to the national legislature.

Over the past decade, China has set growth targets of as high as 8 percent, but the target was reduced beginning in 2012 amid a drop in exports resulting from the global recession.

"During the past year, the difficulties were greater than expected but the results were better than anticipated," Li told the some 3,000 members of the National People's Congress.

The government's confidence that 7.5 percent growth can be achieved "is based on (the view that) China is still a developing country with potential for rapid growth and that reforms will bring benefits that offset the economy's decelerating trend," Xu Bin, professor of Economics and Finance at the China-Europe International Business School, told Efe.

China also will maintain a "prudent" monetary policy and a "proactive" fiscal policy in 2014, with a projected budget deficit equal to 2.1 percent of GDP, the prime minister said.

"In general, Li's report shows the government has a clear strategy for carrying out deep reforms to allow sustainable long-term growth, but also for maintaining a high rate of economic growth in the short term without having to resort to an expansive monetary policy," Xu added.

The Asian giant regularly posted annual economic growth rates in excess of 10 percent prior to the global recession, catapulting itself from the world's seventh-biggest economy in 1999 to second-largest in 2012.

China's government says it is deliberately looking to slow the growth rate as part of a plan to shift its economic model to one less dependent on exports and government investment and more reliant on domestic consumption. EFE