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Thursday, 25 December 2008

China sees challenges ahead

BEIJING - CHINA'S top economic planner warned on Wednesday that the global economic crisis would pose great challenges for China, as he urged the government to fine tune its large-scale stimulus plan.

'We are confronted with great challenges resulting from a dramatic change in the world economic and financial situation,' Zhang Ping, head of the National Development and Reform Commission, China's planning agency, told parliament.

'If we are unable to properly deal with the difficulties, we might be faced with grave risks in failing to realise our strategic goals in economic and social development.'

In the remarks carried by the official Xinhua news agency, Mr Zhang was referring to the government's hope to maintain fast-paced and sustainable growth to ensure employment for its huge population of 1.3 billion people.

The economic planner told parliament that since the third quarter the impact of the global meltdown had spread from China's coastal regions to its inland areas and from export-oriented industries to other sectors.

Along with slowing third quarter growth, investment demand had weakened and industries were facing falling revenues and lower profits, he said.

The government's announced $846-billion stimulus package aimed at stimulating domestic consumption was a good start, he said, but needed to be carefully targeted.

'Detailed plans on expansion of domestic demand over the next two years should be formulated as soon as possible,' Mr Zhang said. 'Measures to maintain stable export growth should be formed without delay.'

China's economic growth slowed to 9.0 per cent in the third quarter of this year as global financial woes started taking a toll, prompting the government to announce the stimulus package.

As a result of the slowdown, growth in the world's fourth-largest economy weakened to 9.9 per cent over the first three quarters of the year.

'Sustainable development should be emphasized by promoting energy conservation and emission reduction,' Mr Zhang said, referring to another strategic goal.

'Employment should be a priority in the government agenda over the next two years,' especially the employment of migrant workers, some who have already lost their jobs due to the economic slowdown, he said. -- AFP

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