Hu Jintao pledges boost for world economy despite China slowdown
China's economy faces downward pressure, president tells Asia-Pacific; calls for stability
Agencies in Vladivostok and Teddy Ng
President Hu Jintao yesterday warned of a further slowdown in the Chinese economy and pledged to boost domestic demand to help counter the obstacles hindering a global recovery.
"Economic growth is facing notable downward pressure," Hu said at the Apec summit in Vladivostok. "Some small and medium-sized companies are having a hard time and exporters are facing more difficulties.
"We have an arduous task of creating jobs for new entrants to the labour force."
China is boosting spending on infrastructure, including 800 billion yuan (HK$979 billion) in new subway and rail projects, as economic growth slows.
The economy expanded 7.6 per cent from a year earlier in the second quarter, the slowest pace in three years. Exports rose 7.8 per cent in the first seven months of the year, compared to a 23.4 per cent rise in the same period last year.
Hu said China's economy was characterised by a "lack of balance, co-ordination and sustainability" and that it would promote "inclusive growth to improve people's lives".
"We will boost domestic demand and maintain steady and robust growth as well as basic price stability," he said.
The economies of the 21 Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation forum members, which account for roughly half of all global economic activity, all face a downturn. A sharp decline in trade growth in the region - to 4.6 per cent in May from 12 per cent in December - has spurred calls for more trade initiatives.
Hu urged Asia-Pacific to spearhead infrastructure development, remove obstacles to attracting investment and promote regional co-operation.
In addition to economic growth, Hu also urged Asia-Pacific nations to help ensure peace in the region, amid a series of territorial rows that have inflamed nationalist tensions.
"To maintain peace and stability and the sound momentum of economic growth in Asia-Pacific is in the interest of all countries in the region," he said. "It is our shared responsibility."
Tensions between China and Southeast Asian nations, especially Vietnam and the Philippines, are running high because of the South China Sea disputes.
A diplomatic row between Beijing and Tokyo also erupted after activists from China and Japan planted flags last month on the disputed Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea, which are known as the Senkakus in Japan. Japan and South Korea have also clashed over sovereignty of the Korean-occupied Dokdo islands, which Japan calls Takeshima.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said Hu discussed maritime territorial disputes with the leaders of Vietnam and Indonesia on the sidelines of the Apec meeting.
Qin also said China would not back down on the Diaoyus dispute, saying that China was determined "to safeguard national sovereignty and territorial integrity".
"Japan should take concrete actions to meet the Chinese side halfway," Qin told reporters.
Hu told his Vietnamese counterpart, President Truong Tan Sang, on Friday that countries involved in the disputes should refrain from taking provocative moves.
Meanwhile, Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario said a meeting between Hu and Philippine President Benigno Aquino was being arranged.
Associated Press, Agence France Presse, Bloomberg