Individual mainlanders hold more than 7,000 billion yuan (HK$6,580 billion) in bank deposits, evidence that ordinary people are benefiting from the economic boom, but a worrying sign they are not spending as the Government hoped. Xinhua yesterday quoted statistics from the People's Bank of China saying that deposits had reached 13,700 billion yuan by the end of August, up 16.1 per cent. About 35 per cent were held by businesses, while private deposits reached 7,060 billion yuan, up 12.3 per cent. Officials have said that stimulating private consumption is the key to maintaining China's current economic momentum. Although China continued to report relatively robust growth this year, officials have cautioned that the mainland's economy will not be immune to the world's economic slowdown. Finance Minister Xiang Huaicheng was yesterday quoted by the semi-official Hong Kong China News Agency as saying it would be dangerous to over-rate China's success. 'We have not been too pessimistic about the US economy, but we also do not want to be too optimistic about ours,' Mr Xiang said when asked to comment on a suggestion that China would be able to lead Asia's economies out of their current doldrums. The Finance Minister was interviewed in Suzhou on the sidelines of the finance ministers' meeting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation forum. Mr Xiang said earlier that China's economy had not turned the corner and the country faced challenges in fixing the ailing state sector and boosting consumption. One of Mr Xiang's deputies, Xu Fanming, speaking yesterday at a trade fair in Xiamen, Fujian, said China's four asset management companies - set up by the Government in 1999 to take over bad debts held by state banks - had absorbed 1,394 billion yuan of such debts by the end of June. But only 271.2 billion yuan of the debts have been 'dealt with' so far - meaning they have been swapped for equity, sold by auction or written off - Mr Xu said. Disposal of these bad debts is significant because it will enable banks to start afresh and loan to businesses again.