China upbeat over pace of economic growth: Li

China's Premier Li Keqiang meets with Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen (not pictured) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Jan 22, 2019.
China's Premier Li Keqiang meets with Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen (not pictured) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing on Jan 22, 2019. PHOTO: AFP

It has enough resilience, potential, ample room for growth: Premier

SHANGHAI • China is fully confident that it is capable of keeping its economic growth rate within an appropriate range this year in spite of challenges, state news agency Xinhua reported Chinese Premier Li Keqiang as saying.

"China's economy has enough resilience, potential and ample room for growth, especially with a huge domestic market and rich human resources of nearly 1.4 billion people," Mr Li said at a discussion on Friday with some foreign experts working in China.

"Therefore, we are fully confident and capable of keeping economic growth rate within an appropriate range in spite of multiple risks and challenges this year," he added.

The world's second-largest economy grew 6.6 per cent last year, above the official target of around 6.5 per cent, according to data issued by the National Bureau of Statistics on Monday.

"The growth rate of 6.6 per cent is hard-won, as it is on the basis of China's very high economic output, fairly sufficient employment and continuous improvement of the environment," said Mr Li.

It was, however, the slowest annual pace since 1990, amid pressure from faltering domestic demand and bruising US tariffs.

Economists polled by Reuters expect the Chinese economy to cool further this year to 6.3 per cent as those pressures continue.

 

Mr Li said China will forge ahead with reforms.

He said China will strengthen regulation, provide better services, reduce taxes and fees on a larger scale, further ease market access and provide a business environment of fair competition.

China is committed to opening wider to the outside world and learning advanced technology and experience from foreign countries, Mr Li added.

He said China, as a developing country, will stick to inclusive development. "China welcomes the entry of all competitive commodities and technology in the world, and we will strictly protect intellectual property rights and speed up the market transformation of innovation results," he added.

Meanwhile, China has appointed banking veteran Yi Huiman to head the China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC), putting governance of the nation's stock markets in his hands at a time when investor confidence has been hit by a slowing economy and US tariffs.

Mr Yi, 54, currently chairman of the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), will take over from Mr Liu Shiyu as CSRC party secretary and chairman.

Mr Yi faces the challenge of reviving global and domestic investor interest in Chinese equities, which have lost a quarter of their value from a year ago amid slowing economic growth and friction between Beijing and Washington over trade issues.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on January 27, 2019, with the headline 'China upbeat over pace of economic growth: Li'. Print Edition | Subscribe