Wed, Jan 13, 2016 - Page 15 News List

Chinese Economics: NDRC boss sees annual 2015 growth rate at 7%

Reuters, BEIJING

China’s economy likely grew by about 7 percent last year and added 13 million new jobs, the top economic planning agency said yesterday as it announced the approval of more large infrastructure projects to avert the risks of a sharper slowdown.

China achieved its main economic targets last year, National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) Secretary-General and spokesman Li Pumin (李樸民) told a news conference, a week before official fourth-quarter and full-year figures for last year are to be released.

Li’s comments come as a renewed plunge in Chinese stock markets and a sharp slide in the yuan have stoked concerns among global investors about the health of the world’s second-largest economy, though there is little evidence that conditions in China have deteriorated dramatically in recent weeks.

Still, growth of 7 percent would be the slowest in a quarter of a century, and down from 7.3 percent in 2014 as weak demand at home and abroad, industrial overcapacity and faltering investment weigh on the economy.

Some China watchers believe real growth levels are already much weaker than official data suggest, reinforcing expectations that the government will have to roll out more support measures this year.

China approved 280 fixed asset investment projects worth 2.52 trillion yuan (US$383.44 billion) last year, Li said.

Thirty-two projects worth 515.1 billion yuan were approved last month alone.

The government has flagged that it intends to spend more on infrastructure to shore up economic activity, but it has faced delays, partly due to slow loan distribution, poor initial planning and high local government debt levels.

“I think there is little connection between the falling stock markets and the real economy,” said Shen Lan (沈嵐), an economist at Standard Chartered in Beijing. “Actually, economic indicators in November already showed the economy gained more momentum.”

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