China on track to meet target
The mainland is on track to meet its economic growth target this year despite higher-than-expected inflation and slower export growth, Premier Li Keqiang said yesterday.
Wrapping up a tour to three Southeast Asian nations yesterday, Li said Beijing would continue to deepen economic reform "in a brave and not-turning-back manner" in order to achieve sustainable growth.
The mainland's consumer prices rose 3.1 per cent last month, exceeding market expectations of 2.9 per cent and clocking their fastest growth pace in seven months.
Meanwhile, exports shrank 0.3 per cent year on year because of weakening global demand.
Beijing has set an economic growth target of 7.5 per cent this year. The growth rate in the first half of the year was 7.6 per cent, down from 9.3 per cent in 2011 and 7.7 per cent last year.
But Li said the mainland economy remained healthy because inflation in the first nine months of the year rose just 2.1 per cent, below the government's annual target of 3.5 per cent.
"We are able to achieve our main economic targets this year," he said. "The positive trend for the economy will continue."
The leadership has attempted to play down fears about the mainland's economic slowdown in the past two weeks.
President Xi Jinping said on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation summit in Bali that the slowdown was the result of "controlled adjustments".
Li also said at the East Asia Summit in Brunei last week that the country's growth exceeded 7.5 per cent in the first nine months of the year.
Throughout his tour to Brunei, Thailand and Vietnam, Li called on Southeast Asian nations to avoid letting territorial disputes over the South China Sea sour relations with China.
China and Vietnam agreed to set up a working group for joint exploration of the disputed waters after talks between Li and his Vietnamese counterpart, Nguyen Tan Dung, on Sunday. A joint statement issued yesterday said both sides also agreed to settle trade using their currencies.
"China will put its best efforts and patience to keep the South China Sea peaceful," Li said. "China is also determined to uphold its independent national sovereignty. These two are not contradictory to each other."