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Big Hope for Growth Rate in a “More Complicated” Economic Year

The Chinese economy will continue to grow at a high rate, though the country may face a more complicated economic situation this year, Zhu Zhixin, director of the National Bureau of Statistics, said on Thursday.

Zhu did not give an exact figure for this year's targeted economic growth, saying the figure would be approved by the upcoming annual session of the National People's Congress.

Zhu made the remark when unveiling an annual statistical report on the country's economic and social development.

But earlier, Qiu Xiaohua, deputy director of the same bureau said China is capable of maintaining 7 percent growth in its gross domestic product (GDP) this year.

"China has a sound and solid material basis for GDP growth ... Chinese companies have managed to sharpen their competitive edge while science, technology and education have contributed more to GDP growth," Zhu said at a news conference held by the Information Office of the State Council.

China has a large market, abundant human resources, high deposit savings and ample foreign exchange reserves, all of which are beneficial to the country's economic development, Zhu said.

"The country has also gained plentiful experience in dealing with inflation and deflation," he said. "If the global economy begins to pick up this year, the Chinese economy will likely witness a pick-up growth rate quarter by quarter."

The central government has already announced that China will continue to carry out a pro-active fiscal policy and a stable monetary policy in 2002, said Hu Shaowei, a senior economist with the State Information Centre.

The country is likely to issue 150 billion yuan (US$18 million) of treasury bonds this year, Hu said.

"This will provide an improved environment for the growth of the consumer goods market," he said.

The measures taken last year to raise the salaries of civil servants, provide compensation for laid-off workers and increase pensions for retirees will undoubtedly help improve people's income levels, which is beneficial to stimulating domestic demand this year, he said.

"The country will continue to take measures to raise the income level of its residents, including the 'fees-for-tax' reform in the rural areas," Hu said.

The country has also fostered a certain number of "successful" consumption sectors in recent years, including the car and housing sectors, Hu said.

The country's extension of the week-long National Day and May Day holidays have also made its tourism industry profitable.

Zhu said the growth rate of the Chinese economy slowed quarter by quarter in 2001, because of the global economic slowdown.

Figures from Zhu's bureau suggest that the Chinese economy grew 8.1 percent in the first quarter of last year, 7.8 percent in the second quarter, 7 percent in the third quarter and 6.6 percent in the fourth quarter.

China's GDP grew 7.3 percent in 2001 compared with the previous year to 9.6 trillion yuan (US$1.2 trillion), Zhu said.

(China Daily March 1, 2002)

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