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Nine in Ten Confident of Future Growth - Survey
The majority of residents from six major Chinese cities who took part in a national survey believe the country's economic future is bright.

The survey, conducted by the China Economic Monitoring Centre, found that nearly 60 per cent of those surveyed said China's economic growth is believed to be more energetic than last year, and more than 30 per cent said the growth rate will be the same as that of last year -- 7.3 per cent.

Only 7 per cent of the people surveyed said this year's economic future will be worse than last year.

The survey involved more than 2,400 family visits in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Wuhan, Xi'an and Chongqing. The cities have contributed on average 60-70 per cent of the State's total economy.

Earlier this year, the central government decided on a 7 per cent growth target for the year, citing the tough external environment confronting the country is not expected to improve in the short term with the world economy locked in the doldrums.

However, Zhang Hanya, head of the Investment Research Institute under the State Development Planning Commission, said China's gross domestic product is expected to achieve an 8 per cent growth this year.

Foreign trade, an important factor in boosting economic growth, is expected to grow 15 per cent this year, despite the declining international economy, Zhang said.

The export growth prediction was echoed by a trade analyst from the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Co-operation, citing export expansion opportunities brought by the country's accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) to boost the economy.

Chinese commodities -- inexpensive and of good quality -- are quite competitive in traditional markets, such as the United States, Japan and the European Union, the analyst said.

However, another source with Zhang's commission said the country's large input on infrastructure and the likely increase of residents' consumption are bigger players in activating the State's economy.

The source predicted that residential consumption will grow 11 per cent this year.

The survey also echoed the prediction of a rise in consumption in five of the cities surveyed.

In Beijing, nearly half of those surveyed believed their income and expenditure will increase this year; their confidence boosted following Beijing's successful bid to hold the 2008 Olympic Games, and the increase in business and commercial opportunities resulting from the country's entry into the WTO.

An increase in household income, especially civil servants' salaries rise, is expected to bring a wave of consumption of private cars and houses.

However, in Shanghai, the situation is different.

Only 20 per cent of those surveyed said their income will increase this year, and nearly 60 per cent said it will be the same as last year.

And two out of every 10 Shanghai residents said their income will drop.

China Economic Monitoring Centre said Shanghai residents' reserved forecast resulted from pressures felt by the residents living in China's economic hub after the State become a WTO member in November.

(China Daily February 26, 2002)

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