China pledged yesterday to stick with its "moderately loose" monetary policy to consolidate an economic recovery that is not yet solid and that is haunted by weak external demand.
The People's Bank of China, the nation's central bank, said at its quarterly monetary policy meeting that it will continue to ensure reasonable growth in loans and direct more financing toward the agriculture sector and small and medium-sized companies (SMEs).
Lending to industries that are polluting, energy-intensive or overcapacity will be strictly controlled, the bank said.
Growth in new lending shrunk in the past two months after the government stepped up its scrutiny of loans and bank assets in a bid to prevent bad debts and asset bubbles. The nation had a record new loan boom of 7.37 trillion yuan ($1.08 trillion) in the first half of 2009.
The country's top leaders have recently reiterated the nation's commitment to an eased monetary policy and more stimulus measures to secure the recovery.
"The central bank is unlikely to adopt a policy change in the coming two years as the investment-driven economy will require a lot of bank lending," Liu Yuhui, director of the Center for Chinese Economic Evaluation at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told China Daily.
Liu added that China's new loans will reach 10 trillion yuan this year and 7 trillion in 2010.
"The massive fiscal stimulus announced last year and the aggressive monetary easing in 2009 has softened the blow of the global slump," said Lee Jong-wha, chief economist of the Asian Development Bank (ADB), last week.
China's investment and lending boom prompted the ADB this month to raise its forecast for China's economic growth in 2009 from the 7 percent predicted in March to 8.2 percent.
The Manila-based multilateral finance organization pointed out in its report that fiscal and monetary stimulus spending must be continued to guarantee the continuation of the recovery.
The central bank said yesterday it would aim to "powerfully" develop consumer credit, which is seen as one of the best ways to boost domestic demand.
Liu said August saw a change in China's macroeconomic policy, which shifted in focus from massive government-led infrastructure investment toward structural reforms that will generate new sources of productivity.
Since then, the government has made it easier for SMEs to access funding. China has also encouraged more private investment and cut back on spending on industries with overcapacity.
"This will help to generate more jobs and increase people's income - both of which will lead to resilience of private consumption," said Liu.
Private consumption accounts for 35 percent of the Chinese economy, according to a report by the London-based Economist Intelligence Unit. The proportion in the United States is about 70 percent.
Some experts expect the central bank statement, released two days before the weeklong National Holiday, will boost the lackluster Chinese stock market after its benchmark stock index fell to a four-week low yesterday.