China to boost domestic demand in 2013: state media

China to boost domestic demand in 2013: state media

BEIJING - China will make increasing domestic demand a top priority in 2013, state media said Sunday following a key conference that sets the country's economic goals.

"Expanding domestic demand will be a strategic basis for China's development next year," said the Xinhua news agency, quoting an official statement released at the end of the two-day central economic work conference.

The report also said China will "deepen reforms in its economy" and "firmly promote opening-up next year".

The conference is closely watched as a key indicator of the government's economic policies for the coming year. This meeting comes weeks after China concluded a closely watched ruling Communist Party leadership transition.

During the party's once-a-decade leadership makeover in November, President Hu Jintao said the country needed to create a new economic model with increased emphasis on the country's consumers.

China's once red-hot economy that saw annual growth rates exceeding 10 per cent has slowed markedly this year. The government expects gross domestic product to expand 7.5 per cent in 2012, down from 9.3 per cent in 2011.

China's economy has for most of the past three decades relied on taking advantage of a large and cheap labour force to become the world's largest manufacturer by exporting to global consumer markets.

But Beijing now hopes to achieve a more balanced growth and needs to tap into the potential of its own consumers to do so, as big economies such as the United States and Europe face difficulties.

Major economies including the United States, the European Union and Japan have all slowed in the aftermath of the 2008-2009 financial turmoil. Europe's debt crisis has also weighed on global growth.

Toward that end, China will boost imports "to support the country's economic restructuring", Xinhua said.

But it said "China will also stabilise and increase its share of world markets", suggesting the country will seek to remain an export powerhouse.

Xi Jinping replaced Hu at the meeting as party chief and is set to take over as president of the country in March.

Xinhua also said China "will continue to implement the proactive fiscal policy and prudent monetary policy in 2013" as well as continue controls on the country's property market.

"China will take enhancing quality and efficiency of economic growth as a central task in 2013," Xinhua said, citing the statement, adding that the country would seek to protect the rights and interests of foreign investors, including intellectual property rights.

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