The economically strong Guangdong Province, in south China, has set its gross domestic product (GDP) growth rate at nine percent for 2007, down from the double-digit rates of previous years.
Guangdong's GDP is expected to reach 2.58 trillion yuan (US$330.7 billion) this year, up 14 percent from last year, according to provincial government predictions.
Governor Huang Huahua said the province lowered the GDP growth rate to match the national GDP growth rate of nine percent set for the 2006-2010 period.
Huang said the provincial government would make more efforts to optimize economic structure and deepen reforms that serve coordinated and scientific development in economic and social sectors.
"By slowing growth, we aim to achieve a balance between economic development, environmental protection and use of resources," Huang said.
Local economists hailed the decision, saying the move would help drive the development of social sectors in the province through the rational use of resources, which in return would enhance economic development.
It has been a common consensus among government officials and economists that Guangdong would see a robust economic growth next year as it did this year despite the lower official target.
Guangdong recorded a GDP of 1.14 trillion yuan in the first half of this year, the highest of the Chinese mainland's 31 regions.
(Xinhua News Agency December 25, 2006)