Fast, stable growth for next year

BEIJING: Economic policies to maintain fast, stable growth in the new year will be continued, the Chinese authorities said on Thursday. 

Work would focus on making economic expansion more efficient and helping the rural poor left behind by a two-decade boom.  

The nation’s leadership put forward major tasks for economic work at a key, closed-door meeting which began on Tuesday, addressed by President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao. 

Fast growth was imperative for increasing national strength and effectively relieving contradictions in economic and social development, said a statement issued after the three-day meeting in Beijing. 

The statement emphasised that it was a “long-term, strategic principle” to increase domestic demand. It said efforts should be made to adjust the relationship between investment and consumption, adding that the main focus was to increase spending, especially farmers’ expenditure.  

China’s economy has been driven largely by investment over the past decade. Reckless investment in sectors such as steel and real estate has fanned worries of an overheating economy in recent years, forcing the government to take a slew of measures, including bank lending cuts and stricter provision of land for industrial use.  

The statement said the country, however, should maintain a “reasonable” investment size, while optimising the investment structure and keeping a tight lid on new projects.  

Investment in fixed assets, an indicator of how much the government spends on roads, power plants and other infrastructure and factory equipment, rose 24% year-on-year in the first three quarters this year, official figures show.  

The government also vowed to optimise the structure of imports and exports and resolve trade imbalances, a reference to China’s export commodities being mostly labour-intensive and backed by foreign-funded firms, with a large trade surplus with the United States.  

The US has been demanding that China further revalue its currency to help remove their trade imbalance. China, however, says the US should allow more export goods involving state-of-the-art technologies.  

China’s economy, Asia’s second-largest, grew a brisk 9.4% in the first three quarters, with inflation having fallen to a moderate 2%.  

At the meeting in Beijing, a “new socialist countryside” was highlighted as a new concept. The statement said it would feature growing production, better livelihoods, cultural development, clean villages and democratic management of village affairs.  

It said measures should be boosted to raise farmers’ income, calling for faster construction of basic facilities and increased investment in rural education, culture and public health. More balanced development is also sought for eastern, central and western areas. – People's Daily  

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