China leaders convene to forge key 2015 economy policies

China leaders convene to forge key 2015 economy policies

BEIJING - China's top leaders opened a meeting Tuesday to craft economic policies for 2015 as the world's second-largest economy embraces slower long-term growth, state media reported Tuesday.

Policymakers gathering for the closed-door Central Economic Work Conference are expected to "map out plans" for the coming year based on an economic "new normal", the Xinhua news agency said.

President Xi Jinping and other top leaders have often spoken of the "new normal" as they try to put China's increasingly affluent consumers at the centre of the economy, rather than investment and exports.

They say they are ready to tolerate slower expansion to achieve more sustainable growth.

Xinhua did not say how long the meeting would run. Previous ones, however, have often lasted two to three days.

The annual gathering is closely watched for clues as to the coming year's goal for gross domestic product (GDP) growth, although its conclusions will probably not be formally unveiled until March.

Economists increasingly expect a lowering of the official GDP target to about seven per cent owing to continuing downward pressures on the economy as well as authorities' commitment to reforming it.

China last lowered the target in 2012, to 7.5 per cent from 8.0 per cent. Any drop to 7.0 per cent would be the lowest since 2004.

The ruling Communist Party's powerful Politburo said last week the government would "keep the economy operating within a reasonable range" in 2015.

Growth came in at 7.3 per cent in the third quarter, the slowest since the height of the global financial crisis in early 2009. The economy is now facing multiple challenges including a deflating property bubble, high debt levels, and the looming threat of deflation, or falling prices.

 

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