by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) July 31, 2012
China's top leaders warned of continued downward pressure on the world's second-largest economy and vowed to make economic growth a top priority, state press reported Tuesday.
"Looking at the domestic economy, the most obvious problem is downward pressure remains substantial," Xinhua news agency quoted Premier Wen Jiabao as saying at a meeting of top politicians.
"We must resolutely maintain and safeguard the stable and relatively fast paced growth of the economy, adjust the economic structure, manage inflation and expectations, and continue to make stable growth a priority."
Wen's comments came at a meeting last week gathering prominent non-Communist Party members, Xinhua said. It was unclear why the state-controlled agency was reporting on the meeting days later.
At the meeting, President Hu Jintao further urged an "active fiscal policy and stable monetary policy" aimed at expanding domestic demand, creating jobs and strengthening the rural economy, the report said.
"We must remain clear headed, fully recognise and pay a high level of importance to the prominent contradictions and problems in our economic work (and) resolutely place higher priority on stable growth," Hu said.
China's leadership is coping with a loss of economic momentum ahead of a sensitive once-a-decade leadership change in the Communist Party, which derives much of its legitimacy from overseeing the country's economic rise.
The 7.6 percent expansion in the second quarter from the year before, while still impressive compared with most countries, marked the sixth straight three-month period of slowing growth for China.
It was the country's worst performance since the world economic crisis of 2008-2009. Global problems, including the eurozone debt crisis, sapped China's economy in the April-June quarter.
Officials have taken various steps to boost growth, including the rare move of slashing interest rates twice within a month. They have also lowered the amount of funds banks must keep in reserve, in a bid to spur lending.
Wen further warned that international demand for Chinese products could continue to slip, while the global economic slowdown could last "a very long time", the report said.
"We must also clearly see that the current functioning of the economy is facing difficulties and risks that cannot be underestimated," Wen said.
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