The effect of the global financial tsunami on China "is worse than expected".
Premier Wen Jiabao was quoted as saying so by National Bureau of Statistics Director Ma Jiantang when he briefed his staff on Tuesday.
It is the first time the premier's personal evaluation of the situation was made public after the central government announced last Sunday a 4 trillion yuan ($586 billion) stimulus package to boost the economy.
Caution was also a key feature in the latest warning from the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (SASAC) to large State-owned enterprises (SOEs).
In an emergency briefing to top SOE executives, minister Li Rongrong told them not to rush into overseas mergers and acquisitions.
"Hold your cash," he was quoted as saying on Wednesday. "Don't rush. There will be plenty of opportunities in the future."
With much of the stimulus package already in the implementation process, World Bank chief economist Justin Lin told China Daily on Wednesday that he thinks the country is capable of achieving 8-9 percent GDP growth in 2009 and 2010, while helping the economies in the region and the world at large.
In a background paper for the weekend's G20 financial summit in Washington DC, the World Bank forecast that annual growth of developing countries will fall to 4.5 percent in 2009, down from 6.4 percent, while the global growth rate will only be 1 percent.
"If China can maintain its dynamic growth, I think the world will find it much easier to fight this global recession," Lin said, noting that China's growth would generate high demand for imports and a large market for suppliers.
World Bank Group President Robert Zoellick said in an earlier press conference on Tuesday that China had set an excellent example in tackling the financial crisis in a very constructive way. "It's an example of some of the things I've been suggesting to various countries, " said Zoellick.
The Chinese government has said it is ready to contribute directly to the global anti-crisis efforts.