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China to pursue reforms while steadying growth

Updated: 2013-12-16 16:57
( Xinhua)

BEIJING -- An annual tone-setting economic meeting, attended by top Chinese leaders, ended on Friday with a statement calling for deeper reforms while keeping growth steady and listing six major tasks for 2014.

Analysts believe the leadership will vigorously pursue reforms next year while keeping its monetary and fiscal policies broadly unchanged, so as to keep the world's second-largest economy growing within its comfort zone.

The statement gave no specific economic targets for 2014, with these usually made public in March.

Analysts, however, have forecast that the Chinese government is most likely to set the same targets for 2014 as in 2013 on key indicators -- aiming for GDP growth of around 7.5 percent and capping the consumer price index (CPI), a main gauge of inflation, at around 3.5 percent.

Growth and reform

Reform should be integrated into all sectors of China's economic and social development in 2014, and China should maintain continuous and stable macroeconomic policies, said the statement issued after the four-day Central Economic Work Conference.

To soundly manage economic work next year, "the core is to seek steady progress and promote reforms and innovations," it said. It is necessary to fully understand the relationship between "sustainable and healthy development" and "economic output growth", and China should improve the "quality of growth" while avoiding "side-effects."

Also, China should continue implementing proactive fiscal and prudent monetary policies in 2014, added the statement.

It also outlined six major economic tasks for 2014 -- ensuring food security, reducing overcapacity, containing debt risks, improving regional development and social welfare, as well as promoting further opening up.

This year's meeting came about one month after the Communist Party of China Central Committee unveiled a landmark plan to deepen reforms.

"Since 2014 will be the first year for Beijing to step up reform efforts to full capacity, the annual central economic work conference this year took four days, much longer than the previous year's two-day session," said HSBC chief China economist Qu Hongbin in a research note.

Qu said the Chinese leaders made it clear that a stable economic growth and pushing reform are mutually supportive.

Peng Wensheng, chief economist of the China International Capital Corporation, said reform will undoubtedly be the most important theme for China in 2014 since it is the first year to implement the reform blueprint unveiled on Nov. 15.

The message from the economic conference is that many ongoing reform measures could be more beneficial to private companies than to state-owned enterprises, Peng said.

He predicted China will accelerate reforms in 2014, as this is the only means by which the country can meet its targets put down in the reform blueprint, which vowed decisive results by 2020.

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