Head of China's top economic planning agency confident about growth

A TOP Chinese economic official has played down concerns that the world's No. 2 economy might be facing risks of a significant slowdown this year, amid a stream of conflicting economic data in the past few months.

Mr Xu Shaoshi, chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission - China's top economic planning agency - told reporters at a press conference on Wednesday that China has the "ability and is very confident" about meeting the 7.5 per cent economic growth target announced by Premier Li Keqiang earlier in the day at the opening of the national parliament.

"We have had a good start, but our future looks even brighter," he said.

Mr Xu emphasised that economic data must be taken in light of the bigger picture.

The Chinese economy, he said, grew at a better than expected 7.7 per cent last year and also eclipsed the United States for the first time to become the world's largest trading nation.

China has become a large contributor to global growth, he added.

Government research showed that weak manufacturing data earlier in the year that triggered concerns of a slowdown are due to the seasonal effects of Chinese New Year, Mr Xu said.

Despite his optimism, he acknowledged that headwinds such as industrial overcapacity, insufficient growth momentum and escalating property prices continue to pose challenges to the economy.

esthert@sph.com.sg

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