China expects to add one trillion yuan (HK$943 billion) to its economy this year, a sign its economic growth is speeding up, the government said at the weekend. Gross domestic product (GDP), the measure of a country's total output of goods and services, will reach 10.2 trillion yuan by the end of the year, rising from nine trillion yuan last year, Xinhua quoted the State Information Centre's Economic Forecast Department as saying. The department said per capita GDP, a key measure of living standards, should reach US$961 (HK$7,500) this year, a 6 per cent increase from US$908 last year. China's per capita GDP has been rising at 6 to 8 per cent in recent years as it grows wealthier. In 2000 it was US$853 while in 1999 it was US$787, according to BNP Paribas Peregrine. Ben Simpfendorfer, an economist at JPMorgan Chase, said the importance of the figures should not be overemphasised as they were reminiscent of when China was a planned economy. 'It's merely a legacy from the command economy, it's a symbolic number,' he said. But he said Beijing was also using the figures to show the effectiveness of economic reforms. 'They're able to show to the people that they are raising living standards, and that is used to justify the sweeping reforms that have been underway since the early 1980s. 'With the leadership transition, there are a number of issues on the horizon, including state-enterprise reform, that will result in rising layoffs. The trade-offs for those layoffs are faster growth in the private sector and employment growth in the private sector.' China's economy is expanding rapidly, growing 7.9 per cent in the first nine months of the year, driven by surging exports and massive foreign direct investment. The department said 7.9 per cent growth would be sustained for the rest of the year. The department added that before 2000, 'it took China an average of two to three years to add one trillion yuan to its GDP. However, the country has now managed the feat in only one year'. Officials want to keep up this pace. President Jiang Zemin said last month the country hoped to quadruple gross domestic product by 2020. That meant keeping real GDP growth above 7 per cent in the medium term, Jon Anderson, senior greater China economist at Goldman Sachs, said recently.