Chinese Premier Li urges to keep economy growing

Chinese Premier Li urges to keep economy growing

Premier Li Keqiang urged governments not to underestimate current economic difficulties and to be "proactive" with "effective policies" when targeting problems that threaten to hold the Chinese economy to its slowest quarterly growth since 2009.

On a fact-finding trip on Friday to Haikou, capital of Hainan province, Li told local officials that maintaining economic expansion will be arduous and local governments must "rise to the occasion" and be "pragmatic" when issuing policies that motivate demand and keep the economy growing reasonably well.

Li visited Hainan-the country's largest special economic zone-amid estimates that the world's second-largest economy is expected to expand by about 7.3 per cent in the first quarter of the year-its weakest showing since early 2009.

The reasonable growth range, a benchmark for Li to decide whether to issue stimulus policies, is a GDP increase of about 7 per cent with inflation no higher than 3.5 per cent.

Before going to Haikou, Li dismissed speculation that the central government will issue massive short-term stimulus policies, easing concerns that authorities may again opt for a massive stimulus package as it did in 2008. The move led to severe overcapacity and structural problems.

"A growth rate under this year's 7.5 per cent target is acceptable as long as sufficient employment is ensured, and the government has prepared enough options to respond to any risks and is capable of maintaining economic growth at a reasonable range," the premier said in an earlier speech.

In Haikou, Li asked about the local export and import situation as he visited Haikou Harbour Container Terminal Co Ltd. March's international trade in China, the world's top trader, reported a decline of 9 per cent to $332.5 billion.

Zhang Chenhui, the manager of the company's ferry business, said travel and trade in Haikou have both increased in the first quarter.

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