China pledges more infrastructure spending to safeguard growth

SHANGHAI (REUTERS) - China's Cabinet pledged to step up spending on urban infrastructure projects and public services, the latest move by Beijing to boost domestic demand in the face of concerns about a slowdown in growth.

Chinese authorities in recent days have clearly signalled their willingness to tweak policy as necessary to safeguard growth, even as they push for structural reforms that will cause some short-term economic pain.

Premier Li Keqiang told a State Council meeting on Wednesday that the government would boost spending on sewage and household waste treatment, gas pipe and heating system renovations, power grid upgrades, and public transport, among other projects, according to a summary of the meeting posted on the State Council's website.

The new leadership has pledged to wean China off investment-led growth in favour of a more consumption-driven model, making clear it would accept some slowing down as a consequence.

Yet investors and policymakers are increasingly concerned that growth could fall well below this year's official 7.5 percent target, already a 23-year low.

The website summary said that the government planned to release a catalog of guidance for government purchases of services from social organisations and firms, signaling a shift away from having government workers provide them directly.