SCIO briefing on China's current economic performance

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Speakers:
Yang Weimin, vice minister of the Office of Central Leading Group on Financial and Economic Affairs;
Wang Zhijun, director of Division One on Economic Affairs, the Office of Central Leading Group on Financial and Economic Affairs;
Cong Liang, director-general of the Department of National Economy, the National Development and Reform Commission;
Xing Zhihong, spokesperson of the National Bureau of Statistics and director general of the Department of Comprehensive Statistics of the bureau

Chairperson:

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

Date:
July 27, 2017

Xi Yanchun:

Ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon. Welcome to this press conference. The State Council Information Office has held several press conferences this month to release latest economic data and provide relevant explanations. To help you gain a better understanding of the current situation, we are delighted to have with us: Mr. Yang Weimin, vice minister of the Office of Central Leading Group on Financial and Economic Affairs; Mr. Wang Zhijun, director of Division One on Economic Affairs, the Office of Central Leading Group on Financial and Economic Affairs; Mr. Cong Liang, director-general of the Department of National Economy, the National Development and Reform Commission, and Mr. Xing Zhihong, spokesperson of the National Bureau of Statistics and director general of the Department of Comprehensive Statistics of the bureau. They will introduce China's current economic performance and answer some of your questions.

Now, let's welcome Mr. Yang to give his briefing.

Yang Weimin:

Ladies and gentlemen, good afternoon. It's a pleasure to meet you. As you know, the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee recently held a special meeting to review national economic performance in the first half of this year and arrange the relevant work for the remainder of the year. The press release has been distributed to you. Now, I'd like to brief you on how the Political Bureau of the CPC Central Committee viewed China's economic performance in the first half of this year and what will be carried out in the second half.

1. How to understand China's economic performance in the first half of this year.

Generally speaking, in the first half of this year, Chinese economy produced a stable performance and moved in a positive direction, with further structural adjustment.

What are the reasons behind this conclusion?

First, economic development was stable, with all major economic indicators standing in an appropriate range, and some even surpassing expectations. National GDP expanded by 6.9 percent, 0.2 percentage points higher than the same period of last year, reaching the highest level since the fourth quarter of 2015.

Second, the quality and efficiency of the economic performance were both enhanced. Fiscal revenue increased by 9.8 percent, and the profits of industrial enterprises above designated size increased by 22 percent.

Third, people's livelihood continued to improve. In both rural and urban areas, a total of 7.35 million new jobs were created, approximately 180,000 more than the same period of last year. Consumer prices remained stable, with the CPI growing by 1.4 percent year on year, and maintaining the same growth rate as the first quarter of this year. Personal per capita disposable income increased by 7.3 percent which was adjusted for inflation, higher than the economic growth rate. Remarkable achievements were made in poverty reduction. New progress was made in ecological conservation, environmental protection and other areas.

Why are we convinced that the structural adjustment has been deepened? Supporting evidence can be provided in three aspects:

First, consumption, investment and export growth had obviously become more balanced as we reviewed the recent structure of demand. The retail sales of consumer products grew by 10.4 percent, reinforcing the role of demand as a driving force to cement economic growth gauged by a contribution rate of 63.4 percent. Investment in fixed assets surged by 8.6 percent, with private sector investment increasing by 7.2 percent for a growth of 4.4 percentage points year-on-year. Exports and imports soared by 19.6 percent, with 15 percent growth in exports and 25.7 percent for imports. The international balance of payments was positive, the current account maintained surplus and the foreign currency reserves were above US$3 trillion.

Second,the industrial structure was much improved: the service industry continued to grow fast, supply-side structural reform in the agricultural sector kept advancing, industrial structure was improved and overcapacity problems continued to be alleviated. Moreover, the driving force of innovation started to take effect and various industries pressed ahead with upgrading and new technologies expanded rapidly. The growths of high-tech industries and equipment manufacturing, respectively standing at 13.1 percent and 11.5 percent, are higher than the increase of the entire industrial sector and the GDP. Besides, the industrial organizational structure saw further improvement as demonstrated by the rise of the concentration ratio of competitive industries and the further segmentation of small, medium and large enterprises. At the same time, controls were effectively strengthened over the real estate market.

Third, judging from the regional structure, the coordinated efforts of three major strategic programs, namely, the Belt and Road Initiative, the concerted development of Beijing, Tianjin and Hebei Province and the operation of Yangtze River Economic Belt are obviously paying off. China's eastern, middle and western region have all seen improvements, with good momentum being sustained in the east, development expanded in the middle and the west and signs of recovery have appeared in the northeastern region.

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