China's restaurant and catering sector has achieved a 15.9-per cent year-on-year increase, with national turnover in the sector increasing to 232.7 billion yuan (US$28 billion) during the first half year, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) reported on Monday.
The report "indicates that the sector has played a bigger role in invigorating domestic demand and employment," Yan Yu, deputy secretary-general of the China Cuisine Association, said at a press conference in Beijing.
Statistics from Yan's association show that about 3.5 million restaurants of different scales had registered by July.
By the end of 2001, about 15 million Chinese people were employed in the sector. Yan didn't offer a more recent statistic in this regard.
Yan forecast that the annual growth rate of the catering industry in 2002 is expected to hit 16 per cent, about 6 per cent higher than the expected growth rate of China's retail trade.
Yan also expressed his concerns over the industry, though it has accomplished such fast expansion.
Market order, service quality and regional development disparity are major problems that still hinder the sector's expansion.
At Monday's press conference, Zhang Shiyao, secretary-general of the Beijing-based World Association of Chinese Cuisine, revealed that China has won a total of 97 gold medals in the fourth World Contest of Chinese Cuisine that wrapped up recently in Malaysia.
Chinese chefs won the most medals among the 21 economic bodies that took part in the contest.
Zhang's association is an international organization which aims to promote Chinese cuisine across the world. More than 40 countries and regions are represented in the organization.
(People's Daily July 23, 2002)