China announces measures to boost creativity, jobs

BEIJING (AFP) - China on Friday announced measures aimed at promoting innovation and job creation, state media said, as authorities seek to ensure that slowing economic growth doesn't harm employment.

According to measures released by the State Council, which functions as China's Cabinet, the government should broadly encourage entrepreneurship as well as startup enterprises to serve as a new engine for economic growth, the official Xinhua news agency said.

The announcement comes as China's economic growth in 2014 registered its worst annual performance in nearly a quarter century, expanding 7.4 percent, while gross domestic product (GDP) decelerated further in the first quarter of this year from the previous three months.

Chinese authorities are tolerant of the slowdown, seen as a necessary element of their attempt to oversee a transformation of the economy in which consumer spending drives growth, a change that they and analysts envision as leading to more sustainable long-term expansion.

But they are sensitive to the potential impact on job growth, which is seen as a key element of social stability in the country with the world's largest population.

A total of four measures call for governments at all levels of the country to place priority on creating jobs, increase employment through the encouragement of entrepreneurship and startups, help university graduates to secure employment or establish businesses, and offer improved government and training services, according to Xinhua.

"In order to encourage entrepreneurship and startups, governments at all levels were called on to speed up related reforms and refine policies to ensure fair treatment, favourable financial and tax conditions, and basic social safety benefits for startups," Xinhua said.

The government said in March when releasing the first quarter GDP figure that China's unemployment rate was "stable" at about 5.1 percent and that 3.2 million new urban jobs were created in the period.

Such a pace would put the country on course to best its annual target of more than 10 million new urban jobs.

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