SCIO press briefing on Q1 economic performance

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Mao Shengyong, spokesperson of the National Bureau of Statistics

Xi Yanchun, vice director-general of the Press Bureau, State Council Information Office

April 17, 2017

Xi Yanchun:

Ladies and gentlemen, good morning. Welcome to this press conference held by the State Council Information Office. Today, we are delighted to be able to invite Mr. Mao Shengyong, spokesperson of the National Bureau of Statistics, to brief us on China's economic performance in the first quarter. He will also answer your questions. Now, let's welcome Mr. Mao to give his briefing.

Mao Shengyong:

Ladies and gentlemen, friends from the media. Good morning.

Please allow me to brief you on China's economy. I'll answer your questions later.

China's economy did well in the first quarter.

So far this year, China's economy has maintained the good momentum in the latter half of last year, with steady progress. More and more positive changes have taken place, and major economic indices were better than we expected. We have made a good start, laying a solid foundation for completing the annual growth targets.

Preliminary statistics show that national GDP reached 18.07 trillion yuan in the first quarter, growing 6.9 percent calculated at constant prices. The added value achieved by the primary, secondary and tertiary sectors was 865.4 billion yuan, 7.00 trillion yuan and 10.20 trillion yuan respectively, representing growth of 3.0 percent, 6.4 percent and 7.7 percent year-on-year. From a month-on-month perspective, national GDP grew 1.3 percent overall.

1. Agricultural production was stable, with an improved mix of agricultural products.

According to a survey of 110,000 farmers nationwide, the rice planting area targeted this year decreased 0.3 percent, wheat decreased 0.8 percent and corn decreased 4.0 percent; soybean increased 8.1 percent, but cotton declined 0.7 percent. Currently, winter wheat is growing well, with 84.8 percent of the fields reaching either the Class I or Class II standard.

In the first quarter, the amount of pork, beef, mutton and poultry meat totaled 22.49 million tons, up 0.2 percent on an annual basis. The figure for pork was 14.68 million tons, up 0.2 percent. The number of hogs totaled 410.95 million, up 0.1 percent on an annual basis. Of them, 191.49 million hogs were slaughtered, up 0.2 percent.

2. Industrial production accelerated with fast growing corporate profits.

In the first quarter, the total added value of industrial enterprises above designated size registered a year-on-year increase of 6.8 percent in real terms. This was 1.0 percentage points higher than the same period of last year, or 0.8 percentage points higher than the whole of last year. An analysis by types of ownership showed that the state holding enterprises saw a gain of 6.2 percent; collective enterprises were up 0.5 percent; share-holding enterprises achieved a 6.9 percent increase; and enterprises funded by foreign investors or investors from Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan rose 6.9 percent. The added value of the mining industry fell 2.4 percent year-on-year; manufacturing rose 7.4 percent and the production and supply of electricity, heat, gas and water saw a gain of 8.9 percent. The industrial structure continued to improve. The added value of the high-tech and equipment manufacturing industrial sector grew by 13.4 percent and 12.0 percent respectively, 6.6 percentage points and 5.2 percentage points higher than that of industrial enterprises above designated size, or respectively 2.6 percentage points and 2.5 percentage points higher than last year. The sales-output ratio of industrial enterprises above designated size was 97.2 percent. In March, the total added value of industrial enterprises above designated size increased by 7.6 percent year-on-year, 1.3 percentage points higher than the first two months, or up by 0.83 percent month-on-month.

In the first two months, total profits made by industrial enterprises above designated size stood at 1.02 trillion yuan, up 31.5 percent year-on-year, 23.0 percentage points higher than that of last year. The profit rate from their primary activities was 5.92 percent, 0.8 percentage point higher than the same period of last year.

3. Services sector grew at a relatively fast pace with high prosperity index.

In the first quarter, the index of services production increased by 8.3 percent year-on-year, 0.1 percentage point higher than the same period last year. Information transmission, software and information technology services, and transport, storage and postal services delivered a strong performance. The growth of wholesale and retail trade, and the accommodation and catering industry picked up speed. In March, their index of services production grew by 8.3 percent, 0.1 percentage point higher than that of the first two months, the same rate as the same period of 2016.

In March, the business activity index for services stood at 54.2 percent, 1.0 percentage point higher than the previous month and 1.1 percentage points higher than the same month last year, a continued high on the prosperity index. Specifically, the business activity index for sectors such as retail, air transport, postal services, internet and software information technology services, monetary and financial services, capital market services and insurance stayed within the relatively prosperous range of over 55.0 percent.

4. Investment in fixed assets witnessed steady growth and the available floor space of commercial buildings for sale continued to decrease.

In the first quarter, the total investment in fixed assets (excluding rural households) was 9.38 trillion yuan, up 9.2 percent year-on-year, 1.1 percentage points higher than that of last year, and 0.3 percentage point up on the first two months of this year. Of the total, investment by state holding enterprises reached 3.31 trillion yuan, an increase of 13.6 percent; private investment reached 5.73 trillion yuan, up 7.7 percent, 1.0 percentage point higher than in the first two months of the year, accounting for 61.1 percent of total investment. Investment in the primary industry reached 233.5 billion yuan, up 19.8 percent; that in the secondary industry was 3.51 trillion yuan, up 4.2 percent, of which the figure for manufacturing was 2.93 trillion yuan, up 5.8 percent; the investment in the tertiary industry was 5.63 trillion yuan, up 12.2 percent, of which, that in infrastructure was 1.90 trillion yuan, a gain of 23.5 percent. Investment in the high-tech industry grew by 22.6 percent, 13.4 percentage points higher than the growth rate of total investment. Funds in place for investment in fixed assets were 10.61 trillion yuan, down 2.9 percent year-on-year, and 5.1 percentage points lower than the first two months. The total planned investment in newly projects was 6.20 trillion yuan, a year-on-year decrease of 6.5 percent. Investment in fixed assets (excluding rural households) in March witnessed a month-on-month growth rate of 0.87 percent.

In the first quarter, total investment in real estate development was 1.93 trillion yuan, up 9.1 percent year-on-year, 2.2 percentage points higher than last year, and 0.2 percentage point higher than the first two months of this year. Of the total, the investment in residential buildings went up by 11.2 percent. Floor space of houses under construction was 315.6 million square meters, up 11.6 percent year-on-year. Specifically, the floor space of residential buildings newly started increased by 18.1 percent. The floor space of commercial buildings sold reached 290.35 million square meters, up 19.5 percent; that that of residential buildings went up by 16.9 percent. The sales of commercial buildings amounted 2.32 trillion yuan, up 25.1 percent. Of this total, the sales of residential buildings grew by 20.2 percent. The land space purchased by real estate developers was 37.82 million square meters, up 5.7 percent year-on-year. At the end of March, the floor space of commercial buildings for sale was 688.1 million square meters, down by 17.45 million square meters compared with the end of February. Funds in place of real estate development enterprises were 3.57 trillion yuan, up 11.5 percent year-on-year.

5. Market sales were stable with online retail sales maintaining a relatively fast growth.

In the first quarter, the total retail sales of consumer goods reached 8.58 trillion yuan, a year-on-year increase of 10.0 percent, which was 0.4 percentage point lower than that of the previous year. Of that total, retail sales of units above designated size reached 3.75 trillion yuan, up by 7.9 percent. Analyzed by areas, retail sales in urban areas reached 7.34 trillion yuan, up 9.7 percent, and those in rural areas amounted to 1.24 trillion yuan, up 11.9 percent. Grouped by consumption patterns, the total income of the catering industry was 919.6 billion yuan, up 10.8 percent; and retail sales of goods were 7.66 trillion yuan, up by 9.9 percent. In particular, the sales of retail units above designated size amounted to 3.52 trillion yuan, up 7.9 percent. Upgraded consumer goods showed robust growth. The retail sales of cultural goods and office supplies grew by 14.8 percent, communications equipment by 11.0 percent, sports and recreational articles by 17.3 percent, furniture by 12.6 percent, and building and decoration materials by 14.8 percent. In March, the total retail sales of consumer goods achieved growth of 10.9 percent year-on-year, 1.4 percentage points higher than the first two months of the year, or up 0.84 percent month-on-month.

In the first quarter, online retail sales hit 1.40 trillion yuan, up 32.1 percent year-on-year. Of the total, the retail sales of physical goods were 1.07 trillion yuan, an increase of 25.8 percent, accounting for 12.4 percent of the total retail sales of consumer goods, or 1.8 percentage points higher than the same period of last year.

6. Imports and exports grew rapidly and structures of trade have been improved.

Imports and exports reached 6.20 trillion yuan in the first quarter this year, registering a yearly growth of 21.8 percent, while, the figure last year slid 0.9 percent. Specifically speaking, exports reached 3.33 trillion yuan, up 14.8 percent year on year, while, imports grew by 31.3 percent to 2.87 trillion yuan. The trade surplus was 454.9 billion yuan.

The general trade of imports and exports increased by 23.2 percent, making up 56.2 percent of the imports and exports combined while registering an increase of 0.6 percentage points. The exports of mechatronics which grew by 15.1 percent in the first quarter this year remained the major force which composed of 58.1 percent of the exports in aggregation.

The imports and exports to some targeted countries involved in the Belt and Road Initiative generated growths. The figures of China's trade to Russia, Pakistan, Poland, Kazakhstan and India rose respectively by 37 percent, 18.7 percent, 19 percent, 69.3 percent and 27.7 percent. The imports and exports in March grew by 24.2 percent year on year to 2.31 trillion yuan, among which, the exports reached 1.24 trillion yuan, up 22.3 percent, while, imports increased by 26.3 percent to 1.07 trillion yuan.

In the last quarter, the delivery value for exports from domestic industries and firms above designated size reached 2.79 trillion yuan, up 10.3 percent year on year, among which the figure in March alone rose by 12.9 percent to 1.07 trillion yuan.

7. The Consumer Price Index (CPI) registered moderate growth while the Producer Price Index (PPI) experienced a decelerated growing rate.

In the first three months of this year, the growth of the CPI dropped 0.7 percentage points year on year to 1.4 percent, constituted by 1.5-percent increase from cities and 1.1 percent in rural regions. In view of industrial categories, prices of foods, cigarettes and alcohols dropped by 0.8 percent year on year, the wears rose by 1.2 percent, accommodations up 2.4 percent, the daily necessities and services grew by 0.6 percent, traffic and telecommunication surged by 2.0 percent, education, culture and entertainment increased by 2.5 percent, medical and healthcare services hiked by 5.1 percent and the other services climbed by 3.6 percent.

Amid the prices of foods, cigarettes and alcohols, those of crops rose by 1.3 percent, pork, up 0.9 percent and fresh vegetables fell by 18.8 percent. In March, the CPI grew by 0.9 percent year on year, a growth 0.1 percentage points higher than that in February, however, 0.3 percent lower than that in February.

The cost price of PPI in the first quarter this year rose by 7.4 percent year on year, while, the figure last year was down by 4.8 percent. In March, the cost price of PPI rose by 7.6 percent, 0.2 percentage points lower than the growth rate in February, while 0.3 percent higher than the growth generated a month ahead. In the first quarter this year, the purchasing price of PPI soared by 9.4 percent, and in March alone, the figure grew by 10.0 percent year on year as well as up 0.5 percent from that of a month ago.

8. Personal income has improved with economic growth while the wealth gap between urban and rural incomes keeps narrowing.

In the first quarter of this year, the per capita disposable income reached 7,184 yuan, with a nominal growth of 8.5 percent and an actual growth of 7.0 percent regarding the factoring of price factors. Growth has become 0.1 percentage points higher than that of GDP. Being dissected in view of urban and rural locations, the disposable income per capita of urban residents reached 9,986 yuan, registering an actual growth of 6.3 percent regarding price factors, at the same time, the rural individuals were distributed with 3,880 yuan, an actual growth of 7.2 percent.

The ratio between urban and rural per capita disposable incomes has reduced to 2.57, 0.02 points lower year on year. The median of the disposable income per capita reached 6,067 yuan, registering a yearly nominal growth of 6.7 percent. The per capita consumption expenditure reached 4,796 yuan, nominally up 7.7 percent year on year and 6.2 percent de facto. By February, the outflow of rural labor force to cities had totaled to 172.53 million, with a 2.7-percent increase of 4.54 million people comparing to the same period, last year. The per capita income of the migrant workers reached 3,483 yuan, up 6.4 percent.

9. The supply-side reform forges ahead and the economic structure continues to be improved.

Progress has been made in an endeavor to reduce overcapacities, real estate inventories and debts while cutting costs and strengthening vulnerable points.

In the first quarter this year, the utilization ratio of industries above designated size reached 75.8 percent, 2.0 percentage points higher than that in the fourth quarter last year, while, the output of raw coals fell by 3.0 percent year on year.

By March, the commercial housing to be purchased slid by 6.4 percent, 3.2 percentage points more than the decline in the end of last year. The costs and debt asset ratio among industries and firms dropped. By February, the ratio of asset liabilities among the industries and firms above designated size reached 56.2 percent, down 0.6 percentage points year on year. Between January and February, the cost of the enterprises above designated size reached 84.91 yuan per 100 yuan in revenue, with a reduction of 0.28 yuan, year on year.

The investment grew faster in the vulnerable sectors and the capitals used for environmental and ecological protection, management of public facilities, agriculture and irrigation respectively increased by 48.1 percent, 27.4 percent, 24.6 percent and 18.3 percent, 38.9, 18.2, 15.4 and 9.1 percentage points higher than the total investment growth.

The industrial structures continued to be improved. The tertiary industry made up 56.5 percent of the GDP, 17.8 percentage points higher than the secondary industry. The change of demand pattern is underway. The eventual consumption expenditures contributed 77.2 percent to GDP growth in the first quarter this year. With the accelerating expansion of new energies, the added value of the emerging industries grew by 10.3 percent year on year, 3.5 percentage points higher than the industries above designated size, in the past three months. The energy consumption has continued to be reduced as the energy consumption per unit of GDP declined by 3.8 percent in the first quarter, this year.

Generally speaking, the national economy maintained good momentum in the first three months, this year, as the growth rate rebounded, the structural reform sustained, the innovative industries accelerated and livelihoods have been much improved. With the numerous positive factors, the economic operation enjoyed a good start. But what we still need to be aware of is the complicated international environment and the acute national structural problems that remain to be solved, which challenged us to be more dedicated to sustain the good momentum.

With our ensuing plans, we'll make progress while avoiding big volatility of the national economy, prioritizing the implementation of innovative approaches, pressing ahead with supply-side reforms, stimulating more demand, effectively rationalizing social expectations and putting innovation as an incentive to fuel development. Let's roll our sleeves and work hard to press ahead with a smooth development of a stable and healthy national economy. Thank you!

Xi Yanchun:

Thanks for Mr. Mao's introduction. Now it's time for questions. The rules remain unchanged as the journalists are required to identify yourself with your media outlets before raising questions. Now the question session begins.


From the data just released, the Chinese economy has made a good start in the first quarter, with several indicators showing positive signs -- industrial output and GDP both having surpassed market expectations. What are behind these increases? And what do you think of the overall performance of the Chinese economy in the first quarter? Thank you.

Mao Shengyong:

Thank you. You raised two questions, and I'll first answer the second one and then move on to the first.

The Chinese economy continued stable and sound momentum in the first quarter, the performance exceeding expectations and providing a rosy start to the year. This will lay a sound foundation for meeting the full-year target.

In terms of the four major macroeconomic indicators, the economic growth rate has picked up, prices are generally stable, employment has expanded and international payments have become more balanced.

First, the growth rate of the Chinese economy has picked up. The country's GDP increased 6.9 percent in the first quarter, an increase of 0.2 percentage points from the same period of last year and an increase of 0.1 percentage points from the fourth quarter of 2016. What's most noteworthy is that the value-added industrial output (of designated large enterprises with annual turnover of at least 20 million yuan) expanded 6.8 percent year-on-year in the first quarter, with a gain of one percentage point from the previous year. The value-added industrial output increased by 7.6 percent in March. This is growth after we remove price factors. If we factor in those prices -- which are on the rise currently -- industrial output would have reached double digit growth. Additionally, the service sector's value-added output also increased faster than the first quarter of last year.

Second, prices are generally stable. The CPI in the first quarter increased 1.4 percent year-on-year, while the core CPI (after excluding food and energy) increased 2 percent, showing a moderate increase. The PPI increased 7.4 percent in the first quarter overall, but 7.6 percent in March, registering expanded growth for five consecutive months since returning to positive growth last September. The PPI increased 7.8 percent in February, mainly due to a carry-on effect. The growth rate in March fell slightly compared to February. Judging from both CPI and PPI, we think prices overall are stable.

Third, employment has expanded. A total of 3.34 million new jobs were created in the first quarter, an increase of 160,000 compared to the same period of last year. At the end of March, the surveyed urban unemployment rates nationally and in 31 major cities fell compared from February; especially, the unemployment rate in the 31 major cities stayed below 5 percent. At the end of February, the number of migrant workers increased by 2.7 percent year-on-year. Additionally, market research discloses there were 1.13 vacant positions for every job seeker, slightly higher than the same period of last year. All this points to a sound employment environment.

Fourth, the international balance of payment has improved. Judging from the current account, the surplus of trade in goods topped 450 billion yuan in the first quarter. Taking into account of service trade, the current account is still in the black; judging from the capital account, the capital flow has also shown positive signs as the foreign exchange rate of the yuan and foreign reserves remain generally stable.

Based on the above four major indicators, the Chinese economy is in a stable and sound condition.

Now, turning back to your first question: What are the factors behind the sound performance of the economy? First, secondary industry, especially manufacturing, made a big contribution to the economic growth. As the supply-side structural reform continues to make gains, the supply-demand relationship has improved notably and businesses have increased their confidence. Enterprises have seen fast growth in their profits -- the profit of designated large enterprises with annual turnover of at least 20 million yuan increased 31.5 percent from January to February year-on-year, for example. As enterprises obtained higher profits, they expanded production, which contributed significantly to the overall economic growth. Secondary industry saw its added value rise 6.4 percent year-on-year, an increase of 0.5 percentage points from the same period last year. It contributed 36.1 percent to GDP growth, an increase of 1.1 percentage points year-on-year.

Second, consumption plays more of a basic role in driving economic growth. Firstly, people's income has grown by 7 percent in real terms in Q1, up 0.5 percentage points year-on-year. Income is a key requirement for consumption growth. Secondly, according to statistics, the consumption structure rapidly upgrades as service consumption takes up a larger share in the total mix. Service consumption is growing fast.

Moreover, the upgrading of the consumption structure is also manifested with the quick growth of quality products. Thirdly, mass innovation and entrepreneurship is breeding new consumption models and patterns and thus boosting emerging areas of consumption as well as new growth drivers. With all of the above factors combined, consumption has contributed 77.2 percent to economic growth, up by 2.2 percentage points over the same period last year.

Third, exports' contribution to economic growth has turned positive. The surplus of trade in goods was over 450 billion yuan in Q1, down by 35.5 percent year-on-year. This decline may trigger doubts about the so-called positive contribution of exports to economic growth. Actually, while doing the GDP calculations, we need to make several adjustments in those statistics by using the constant price, i.e. adjusting for import and export prices, to measure the growth rate.

And here, the 35.5 percent decline in the trade surplus is actually indicating the current price. The price index for export and import was 5.4 percent and 14.4 percent in Q1. After adjustment for inflation and taking trade in services into consideration, the surplus of trade in goods and services are actually growing compared to that of the previous year. Net export of trade in goods and services has contributed 4.2 percent to economic growth, compared to a negative 11.5 percent last year. So it is safe to say that exports contribution has turned from negative to positive.

All the above three drivers supported the rapid rebounding of economic growth in the first three months. Thank you.


To what extent had the capital formation contributed to economic growth in the first quarter? While consumption contributed 77.2 percent of economic growth, some economists still hold that the country's economy is still driven by infrastructure investment and the property market. How do you respond to this? Thank you.

Mao Shengyong:

What are the main factors driving economic growth? This is still the focus of public attention.

We may analyze it from the perspective of industrial structure. First, given the rapid industrial expansion, many people may think that industry might be the main driving force for economic growth. Then in this logic, can we say that traditional industry could also be a major driving force of economic growth if it profits well? Looking into the industrial structure, the tertiary sector actually contributed 61.7 percent to economic growth. Therefore, it should be the biggest driver for economic expansion.

Secondly, as we look into different fields of industry, the traditional sector is also growing but with a modest pace. For instance, the growth rate of the mining industry is still negative, but the drop is narrowing compared to the same period last year. Other traditional sectors are growing at a modest pace but quicker than that of the previous year. Advanced manufacturing sectors are better performers, which are exemplified by a 13.4 percent and 12 percent expansion in the high tech industry and equipment manufacturing industry respectively. Specifically speaking, therefore, advanced manufacturing sectors are growing faster while traditional sectors are keeping stable growth.

Thirdly, traditional sectors are also undergoing a major facelift. Pushed by the supply-side reforms in recent years, some traditional sectors like steel, non-ferrous metals and sheet glass have had its outdated facilities shut down and witnessed improved technology, quality, craftsmanship and competitiveness. From this perspective, different industries are developing toward medium and higher ends.

If we look at the picture from the demand side, consumption is still the largest contributor for growth. It contributed 77.2 percent to economic growth in Q1, up by 2.2 percentage points year-on-year. At the same time, capital's contribution is markedly declining to 18.6 percent. Therefore, capital is by no means the major factor driving economic rebound. The general picture is that consumption as well as the service sector constitutes a major part of economic growth. Thank you.

Financial Times:

Since October last year, the government has provided a very definite policy aimed to deflate housing-market bubbles. We could see the latest data: the 9.1 percent investment growth in the real estate market, much higher than that of the same period last year. Do you think this growth rate could be maintained? Will the tightening policy be tightened further?

Mao Shengyong:

Thank you for your question. We care about the real estate market very much. As for the control of the real estate market, firstly, the fundamental position for the real estate market is very clear. Houses are for living, not for speculating. This is a basic position. The real estate should keep its residential function. Second, in order to achieve this aim, we should establish robust long-term mechanisms for promoting the steady and sound development of the real estate sector. For tax, finance and land supply, we should establish a full set of institutional arrangements. Third, the real estate market is highly regionally demarcated. Some areas, especially the first-tier cities and some hot cities are under big pressure from rising housing prices. At present, there is still excess supply in the real estate market of third- and fourth-tier cities, we should adhere to align measures with local circumstances, implement policies based on city circumstances and local governments should give a better play to take primary responsibility in this respect.

After Sep. 30 last year, some areas have introduced a series of real estate policies, which were aimed to rein in surging housing prices. In March of this year, housing prices rebound turned up in some areas. In order to curb excessively rising housing prices, prevent real estate speculation and risks, we further take some adjustment measures. The new round of adjustment measures was rolled out after March 17, so the effect on the housing prices and other indices of real estate may appear in April and beyond.

Regarding your concern about the real estate market after taking adjustment measures.In the first quarter, the investment in the real estate market increased by 9.1 percent, 0.2 percentage points higher than that for January to February, 2.2 percentage points higher than that for the entire year of 2016. I think there are two reasons: one is that the transacted floor space had an excessive growth last year, and that housing prices increased a lot.

Because the investment in the real estate market is cyclical, so the investment from enterprises into properties lags. In the first quarter of this year, the transaction volume by floor space sales area of commercial properties increased by 19.5 percent year on year. Although it has fallen from the highs of last year, the growth is still fast. The enterprises still have a motivation to invest.

The other one is, seen from the paid-in investment of enterprises, the growth of the first quarter is not bad. But what is the trend of the real estate market investment in the next quarter? We could see from two aspects. On the one hand, sales by floor space have increased rapidly last year, with a high base number. The first quarter of this year has started to fall; the growth rate of the transaction by floor space is much likely to slow down, which may affect the motivation of enterprises investment to a certain extent.

On the other hand, some hot cities have increased land supply, which could help increase real estate investment. I think that the growth of real estate investment in the next quarter still needs observation. Thank you.

China News Service:

It's inspiring to see a 6.9 percent GDP growth rate in Q1. A latest report released by the World Bank has shown that China's growth is projected to continue easing steadily, to 6.5% in 2017 and 6.3% in 2018, as the government rebalances toward consumption and services. Mr. Mao, in your opinion, what are the future prospects of China's economic growth? Thank you.

Mao Shengyong:

Thank you for your question. Some international organizations and research institutes often make predictions for the economic growth of China and other major economies. Scholars and media in China have also shown their optimistic or pessimistic views. In my opinion, there are two characteristics of China's economy in the next stage and for the medium-and-long period.

Firstly, China's economy is becoming more stable, which means stable in growth rate, employment, commodity prices and incomes. Your concern is regarding the growth rate. China's economic growth rate was 6.9 percent in 2015, 6.7 percent in 2016 and 6.9 percent again in Q1 this year. The slight fluctuation shows the stability of economic growth.

The favorable growth rate brings promising employment. In the past few years, China added more than 13 million jobs in urban areas every year, with the unemployment rate staying under 5 percent and fast growth in the income of urban and rural residents. Fluctuation of economic growth is reasonable as long as the rise of commodity prices can be controlled, the employment can be guaranteed and the incomes can grow. This year's government work report sets the GDP growth target at 6.5% for 2017.

The recent years have seen dramatic changes in China's industrial structure. The tertiary industry now accounts for more than 50 percent of all the three industries, with 51.6 percent in 2016, which contributes much for the stability of China's economic growth. The service sector, with promising development and high growth, has become the anchor and stabilizer of economic growth. Meanwhile, the increasing contribution from consumption is a strong support for the country's economic stability.

Secondly, China's economic development sees a promising future. China is still a developing country, with GDP per capita of US$8,000. The potential of coordinated development of new urbanization, new industrialization, agricultural modernization and informatization is great. The fast development in the last 40 years has accumulated abundant capital, manpower capital, talent dividends and reform dividends which have been released by the supply-side structural reform and the reforms in key sectors. From the perspective of the medium-and-long-term, China's economic development is promising. Thank you.

Market News International:

The profits of industrial companies rose 31.5% in the first two months from a year earlier. In fact, we heard that some companies' cost of capital is increasing, including staff salaries and taxes. Since there is not much money left for companies after paying the tax. I believe the number just mentioned is gross profit, not net profit. If this is true, the next step in regard to a company's investment may be unknown. What are your views on this issue?

Mao Shengyong:

Firstly, it is true that the profits of industrial enterprises above the designated size basically increased 31.5% year-on-year. There are three main reasons for the growth: first, the price of major industrial products has been growing at a fast pace, with a PPI increase of 7.8% in February; second, industrial production has been expanding; third, the profit margins of companies are also growing. To be fair, the reason why we could reach the number of 31.5% is also because of the low base registered in the same period of last year. As regards the next step, the growth rate of enterprise profits may gradually return to a normal and reasonable level, but the enterprise profits could still maintain a relatively high growth.

Secondly, I'll answer the question about enterprise costs. We also received some feedback from enterprises through a variety of channels. In general, the State implemented a series of tax reductions to reduce enterprise costs. Last year, we reduced the overall tax burden by nearly 1 trillion yuan, particularly by replacing the business tax with a value-added tax that produced a reduction of 500 billion yuan. So, in this period, we have achieved great success in reducing costs. However, we still need to take note that enterprise costs are still relatively high, creating much pressure on their operations. The enterprises still carry a heavy burden, especially when overall domestic demand is not quite so strong. Hence, we need to push ahead with tax reduction and cutting systemic transaction costs, reducing the enterprise burden and creating a better market environment for their future development. Thanks.


China National Radio:

We have noticed that, in March, private investment reached 5.73 trillion yuan, up 7.7 percent, one percentage point higher than growth in the first two months of this year. Does the overall momentum of the private investment suggest a rebound now? Besides, private investment reflects the real economy. So, is the real economy getting better, too? Thank you.

Mao Shengyong:

Thanks for your questions. One is about the trend of the private investment and the other refers to the growth of the real economy.

Private investment in the first quarter of the year did indeed grow one percentage point, and was faster than the growth in the first two months of this year, reaching 7.7 percent. The manufacturing investment in the first quarter of the year grew 5.8 percent, which represented a 1.5 percentage-point gain compared to the first two months of the year. We pay close attention to private investment and investment in the manufacturing sector, because the latter mainly involves private enterprises and thus is a more accurate reflection of the market's growth momentum and dynamics. Since last September, both manufacturing investment and private investment have been rebounding.

Last year, private investment was at a low level with a rapid decrease. The State Council undertook studies, issued documents and dispatched supervisory groups to local governments to check the reasons for this. Since then, private investment has been given high attention by local governments. It has been on the rise from the last September to the present.

Viewed from the current circumstances, the rebound has a certain basis, and here are the reasons:

First, the supply-demand relationship has improved and the market has become more vigorous, creating a better atmosphere for the investment and growth of private enterprises.

Second, current policy support in various respects, including reforms for "streamlining administration and supervision and service efficiency", market access and accelerating PPP-based projects, have allowed more space for private enterprises, which will help the growth of the private investment. Thus, private investment can still maintain its rebound in the next phase.

As for the real economy you mentioned, revival of the real economy is one of this year's four key tasks in deepening supply-side structural reform. The real economy includes the manufacturing sector and the service sector. Given the current overall economic growth trend, the real economy has shown signs of rebound. Next, with more policy supports, more resources and funds will be pulled away from the virtual economy to benefit the real one. The real economy is well positioned to achieve better development. Thank you.

China Economic Information Service:

I have a question on Xiongan New Area. As you know, the new area has gained widespread attention since news about it was released on April 1. Will its construction stimulate investment to some extent? Thank you.

Mao Shengyong:

Thanks for your question. Xiongan New Area is currently a major concern all over China and around the world. The plan to create the new area is a major strategic choice made by the CPC Central Committee and the State Council to remove functions not related to the capital from Beijing and to integrate the development of Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei Province. It is crucial for the millennial development to come and will play a significant role in promoting economic and social development. First, it has shored up confidence in different aspects at present. Second, it will expand the space for regional development in terms of actual growth.

Next, as the plan of the new area has been introduced, Xiongan is under construction step by step according to this plan, generating strong demand for businesses, industries and talents. It will provide many startup platforms and opportunities for market entities.

Chairperson Xi Yanchun:

That's all for today's press conference. Thank you, Mr. Mao, and all our friends from the press.

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