China's economic growth 'hard to predict'
By Fu Jing (China Daily)
Updated: 2008-10-25 08:56

The worsening global economic situation makes it difficult for China to predict its growth for next year, a senior official said on Friday.

"How fast China's economy will grow next year is uncertain," Liu He, deputy director of the Office of the Central Leading Group on Finance and Economy Work, told China Daily.

"To a large extent, the rate will be decided by the external situation," Liu said during a discussion with Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt and other economists in Beijing.

This year, GDP is estimated to grow at 9.4 or 9.5 percent, down from 10.6 percent last year, he said. However, the impact of the current financial turbulence "on our economy is much less than on the rest of the world", he said.

Nicholas Stern, a former UK government advisor, also told China Daily it will take at least one or two years for the world to recover from the recession, which is now spreading from the US and the UK to the rest of the world.

"We don't know how long the recession will last, but it is unlikely to be short," he said.

Liu said China can use the downturn as an opportunity to restructure its economy, which has relied heavily on government investment, foreign trade and low-cost technology over the past years.

"When the economy is experiencing fast growth, companies are unwilling to upgrade their technologies," Liu said.

"The slowdown gives such firms the opportunity to enhance their competitive edge through better technologies."

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