China "will maintain 7% growth rate" say speakers at Singapore forum

Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference vice-chairman Tung Chee Hwa, who was also a former Hong Kong chief executive, speaking at the opening plenary discussion of the FutureChina Global Forum at Shangri-La Hotel on July 20, 2015.
Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference vice-chairman Tung Chee Hwa, who was also a former Hong Kong chief executive, speaking at the opening plenary discussion of the FutureChina Global Forum at Shangri-La Hotel on July 20, 2015.ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM

SINGAPORE - The vice chairman of a Chinese political advisory body and a dean at Peking University were upbeat on China's growth story in Singapore on Monday.

Both Mr Tung Chee Hwa, who was Hong Kong's first chief executive and now a vice chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, and Mr Justin Lin, professor and honorary dean at the National School of Development of Peking University, maintained that China's economy could continue to grow by 7 per cent annually.

Mr Tung was delivering the keynote address at the opening plenary session of FutureChina Global Forum 2015 held in Shangri-La Hotel, while Mr Lin spoke at the panel discussion that followed. The two-day forum ends on Tuesday.

 

Following weeks of stock market turmoil, China confounded expectations that its economic growth would slow further, announcing last week that its gross domestic product for the second quarter rose by 7 per cent, steady with the previous quarter. The figure represents the lowest level of growth since the 2009 global financial crisis but is in line with Beijing's official target for 2015 of "around 7 per cent".

 

Beijing is looking to boost domestic consumption as it attempts to restructure its economy away from an over-reliance on exports and over-investment in sectors like real estate and factories.

Mr Tung said domestic consumption and the service sector would be the Chinese economy's new growth drivers.

Consumption for the first half of this year would likely reach 60 per cent of the economy, he said. The service sector also now accounted for 49.6 per cent of the country's GDP, he added.

Employment growth would remain strong even though the rate of appreciation would slow from previous years, he added. This is because every dollar of GDP in the services sector created one third more jobs than every dollar of GDP in the manufacturing sector, he argued.

He aslo said the economy was well on course to meeting the government's target of creating 10 million jobs a year, with 7 million jobs already created in the first half of this year.

Mr Lin said that while the slowdown in global economies had limited investment and exports, China's consumption was growing robustly and would support growth.

Opportunities for companies to move up the value chain would generate investments, would, in turn would create more output and encourage further consumption, he said.

jkoh@sph.com.sg