China opens key economic policy meeting

Updated: 2007-12-03 10:24

BEIJING - China's top leaders gathered in Beijing Monday to determine economic policies for 2008 amid efforts to prevent the economy from overheating and to curb inflation.

The Central Economic Work Conference, an annual event initiated more than a decade ago, has served as a crucial mechanism for the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee and the State Council to run the Chinese economy.

Despite spectacular economic and social development since the start of the year, on the agenda at the conference is how to cool off booming investment and bank lending, address the soaring trade surplus, and improve the people's livelihood, sources said.

The conference will work out specific strategies and resolutions for these problems China is confronted with in its development.

China's economy is expected to expand 11.5 percent this year, fueled mainly by investment spending which rose 26.9 percent in the first ten months.

Its foreign exchange reserve topped $1.43 trillion by the end of September - a main factor that have triggered the persistent liquidity problems.

Due to rising prices of food, the inflation rate will be 4.5 percent to 4.6 percent for the full year, compared with the government target of three percent, China's top statistician Xie Fuzhan said last week.

In a prelude to the conference, the Political Bureau of CPC Central Committee convened a meeting last week, saying next year's top macroeconomic priorities would be preventing the economy from overheating and the current price rises from evolving into "evident inflation".

"China would seek steady progress, give priority to good development (over excessive development) and adhere to its reform and opening-up policy," the Political Bureau was told.

The country would also strive to make bigger progress in improving the people's livelihood, especially the lives of low-income families.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao has also admitted that "prices have been on the rise these days and I'm aware that even a one-yuan (0.13 US dollars) increase in prices will affect people's lives."

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