Quality of growth has been given more emphasis than ever by the central
leadership as it mapped out economic guidelines for next year.
The aim is to maintain stable yet rapid economic growth and avoid any big
swings in the economy, said a document summing up the deliberations of the
three-day Central Economic Work Conference that closed yesterday in Beijing.
No specific growth targets were set for next year.
President Hu Jintao speaks at the
central economic work conference that ended on December 7, 2006.
For the first time, a better balance in international payments was set as a
major goal as leaders pledged to redouble efforts to vigorously expand imports
and overseas investment while maintaining rational export growth and use of
The conference is the most important economic forum, held towards the end of
each year, to map out development priorities for the next year.
Both President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao delivered speeches at the
meeting, which was attended by all top officials of the central government.
China's trade surplus reached US$133.62 billion in the first 10 months this
year, exceeding the US$101.9 billion for the whole of last year.
Having attracted more foreign investment than any other developing country
for the 15th consecutive year, China is estimated to hold about US$1 trillion in
foreign exchange reserves.
The growing trade surplus has led to frequent trade friction, while the large
international payments surplus has increased the pressure for appreciation of
the Chinese currency.
Experts say too much foreign exchange has forced the central bank to issue
more renminbi, causing excessive liquidity in domestic financial markets.
The government will continue the strategy of "going global" by encouraging
overseas investment, officials said.
China's direct investment overseas was about US$12.3 billion last year,
according to the 2006 World Investment Report by the United Nations. But that
accounted for only 0.59 per cent of global foreign investment last year, much
less than the 4.4 per cent share of global gross domestic product (GDP) and the
6.5 per cent of world trade.
At the conference, Hu told officials that new ideas have been drawn up by the
national leadership after it reviewed the experience in the last few years and
compared it with the current situation.
To mark the closing of the conference, today's People's Daily carries an
editorial urging more balanced development of the economy.
It says the country has made remarkable achievements in the first year of the
11th five-year plan (2006-10), with the economy fulfilling all the targets set
by the central government, and as a result, raising general living standards.
However, there are still problems that need to be tackled, most noticeably
the relatively weak agricultural sector and the risk of financial fluctuations
caused by excessive investment.
There should be a balance between investment and consumption, the domestic
and overseas markets, and different segments of overall investment, it says,
calling for efforts to expand domestic consumption while reducing trade surplus.
Rural areas, especially the less-developed regions in central and western
China, should continue to receive strong support, the newspaper says.
The economic conference embodies a change of emphasis from speed of economic
growth to quality, says a news analysis filed by the Xinhua News Agency and
posted on the People's Daily website.
It is an implicit signal of moving away from the mode of
development that put a lopsided emphasis on speed of growth, the analysis quoted
Professor Zhong Wei of Beijing Normal University as saying.