China is on track to meet growth target of 6.5%, may even beat it: Statistics bureau head

The economy has found new growth drivers in new industries, new business formats and new business models such as the sharing economy, and e-commerce.
The economy has found new growth drivers in new industries, new business formats and new business models such as the sharing economy, and e-commerce.PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING - China is on track to meeting its growth target of around 6.5 per cent this year, and could well exceed it, a senior economic official said on Tuesday (Oct 10).

Citing a stronger-than-expected economic expansion of 6.9 per cent in the first half of the year, Mr Ning Jizhe, head of the statistics bureau, said various indicators such as the 21.6 per cent surge in industrial profits for the first eight months from a year earlier has shown that the economy is improving steadily.

"China will have no problem meeting the economic growth target of around 6.5 per cent," Mr Ning said at a briefing on China's economic achievements for the past five years, adding "the full-year number could turn out to be even better".

If this happens, it will be the first pick-up in China's growth in seven years, after dipping to 6.7 per cent - a 26-year low - in 2016.

"Both the (Chinese Communist) Party and the State Council have stated, other than the growth rate, we should also pay attention to other indicators such as employment, prices of goods and the environment," Mr Ning said.

"Over the past few years, we have strong employment numbers, prices have been lower than expected and our environment has been improving. So from these various indicators, we are confident, capable and have the right conditions to achieve this year's socio-economic development targets," he added.

Analysts have said that much of the robust growth comes on the back of continued heavy government infrastructure spending and the on-going property boom, which may start to wane in the coming months.

Mr Ning told reporters that the property cooling measures rolled out in various cities have shown results and will continue.

"In particular, we will gradually build up a long-term mechanism for controlling the property market," he said.

One of the key measures of this "long-term mechanism" is seen to be property taxes, which could be effective in curbing speculative buying, analysts have said.

In a low-down on China's economy for the past five years, Mr Ning said the country has entered a period of "new normal", where growth has slowed to a "moderate-to-high rate" of an average of 7.2 per cent for the past four years compared to the high double digit growth previously.

In this "new normal", upgrading and restructuring of the economy has picked up pace. Consumption has replaced investments as the main driver of growth and services has become the biggest sector in the economy.

The economy has also found new growth drivers in new industries, new business formats and new business models such as the sharing economy, and e-commerce.

In 2015, such new economic engines created an economic added value equivalent to 14.8 per cent of the gross domestic product.

"The characteristics of a new normal in our economic growth has taken clearer shape, supporting the economy, creating jobs and income for our people," said Mr Ning.