Thu, Dec 25, 2008 - Page 11 News List

China’s top economist warns of growth threat

SOMBERZhang Ping said the global financial crisis had spread from affluent coastal regions to inland areas and that demand, revenues and profits were suffering

AFP , BEIJING

Beijing’s top economic planner warned yesterday that the global economic crisis would pose great challenges for China, as he urged the government to fine-tune its large-scale stimulus plan.

“We are confronted with great challenges resulting from a dramatic change in the world economic and financial situation,” National Development and Reform Commission head Zhang Ping (張平) told parliament. “If we are unable to properly deal with the difficulties, we might be faced with grave risks in failing to realize our strategic goals in economic and social development.”

In the remarks carried by Xinhua news agency, Zhang referred to the government’s hope to maintain fast-paced and sustainable growth to ensure employment for its huge population.

The economic planner told parliament that since the third quarter the impact of the global meltdown had spread from China’s coastal regions to its inland areas and from export-oriented industries to other sectors.

Along with slowing third quarter growth, investment demand had weakened and industries were facing falling revenues and lower profits, he said.

The government’s US$586 billion package aimed at stimulating domestic consumption was a good start, he said, but needed to be carefully targeted.

“Detailed plans on expansion of domestic demand over the next two years should be formulated as soon as possible,” Zhang said. “Measures to maintain stable export growth should be formed without delay.”

China’s economic growth slowed to 9 percent in the third quarter of this year as global financial woes started taking a toll, prompting the government to announce the stimulus package.

Owing to the slowdown, growth in the world’s fourth-largest economy weakened to 9.9 percent over the first three quarters of the year.

Zhang said: “Sustainable development should be emphasized by promoting energy conservation and emission reduction,” referring to another strategic goal.

“Employment should be a priority in the government agenda over the next two years,” especially the employment of migrant workers, some of whom have already lost their jobs because of the economic slowdown, he said.

“The stability of agriculture is essential against a backdrop of an international financial crisis,” said Zhang, urging increased production and larger peasant incomes.

Xinhua called Zhang’s address a “somber report on how the intensifying impact of the world financial and economic crisis is reverberating through China’s economy.”

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