Beidaihe meeting

Leaders quiz O'Neill on confidence in stronger growth

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 11 September, 2001, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 11 September, 2001, 12:00am

China's top leaders had a chance to quiz United States Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill on Washington's confidence in stronger US economic growth this year.

Later this month, China's Central Committee is scheduled to meet and debate a new proposal for government spending aimed at bolstering flagging domestic growth and compensating for a downturn in export growth.

Last month meetings in Beidaihe ended in disagreement and Chinese leaders postponed a decision while they awaited fresh financial data showing which way the global economy was heading.

Falling export demand in Japan and the US is being complicated by the fallout from the crash of information technology industries just as Beijing wants to raise more capital for China's state-owned enterprises on the New York bourse.

Mr O'Neill met with President Jiang Zemin, Vice-Premier Li Lanqing, Central Bank governor Dai Xianglong and Vice-Premier Wen Jiabao.

Today, he will meet with Finance Minister Xiang Huaicheng during the annual meeting of the China-US Joint Economic Committee before leaving for Tokyo.

In a speech to students of the University of International Business and Economics, Mr O'Neill sounded optimistic about China's growth prospects, saying that its economy was being little affected by the slowdown elsewhere.

He predicted that the US would achieve the administration's target of 3.2 per cent next year which would help maintain global expansion.

Mr O'Neill lectured students on the importance of more corporate reform, cutting back state interference, and bolstering the role of markets and private business. Many students asked him about the strong dollar but he refused to be drawn, preferring to stress the fundamentals of economic theory.