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Economists See Rapid Growth for Two Decades

China will maintain a high economic growth rate over the next 15 to 20 years, according to economists attending the 2003 China Economic Growth Forum in Suzhou in east China's Jiangsu Province, which opened on Sunday.

Nobel laureate Lawrence Klein said China had recorded rapid growth over the past two decades, and its economy would continue to grow strongly in the next 20 years though there might be some slowing of the pace. He said a 6 to 7 percent rate is more likely than the 8 or 9 percent recorded in some years.

Goldman Sachs (Asia) Managing Director Fred Hu also expressed optimism about the nation's prospects because of positive fundamentals in place for long-term rapid growth. China has great "catch-up'' potential since its per-capita gross domestic product is still low compared to developed nations, he said.

Hu said the Chinese economy is backed up by the high proportion of savings deposits and mainly driven by long-term investments, such as those in infrastructure, equipment retooling and innovation and housing consumption.

Hu noted that human resources in China are immense and cheap, while the government has accumulated rich experience in economic management and adopted a sound policy environment for economic growth.

Entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO) and China's opening-up will help the country optimize distribution of resources and further improve its productivity. Hu predicted the improvement of productivity would replace capital accumulation as the major driving force if China's growth in the next two decades.

Li Deshui, director of China's National Bureau of Statistics, said China will be able to maintain a growth rate of 7 to 8 percent for an unprecedented period of more than 40 years.

China has developed a relatively strong base of materials, enjoyed a great potential for growth and followed a practical strategy of development, he said. The government has accumulated plentiful experience in macro-economic controls and explored a unique route of development with Chinese characteristics.

Acknowledging that China was accelerating the pace of opening itself to the outside world and implementing the strategy of developing education and science, Li said the country has a sound development environment as it adopts a new social and economic ideologies.

Klein said China had already realized the importance of coordinating and balancing quality with the quantity of economic growth. This will have great impacts on the economic growth, he added.

The two-day forum is sponsored by the NBS and attended by more than 300 officials, academics and business people from both China and abroad.

(China Daily November 10, 2003)

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