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China's economy to grow by 9%: expert
The Chinese economy is expected to grow by nine percent this year, compared with the target of seven percent growth rate set by the Chinese government earlier this year, an economic expert said Monday.

Xu Hongyuan, vice-director of the Development and Research Department under the official State Information Center, said the growth rate of the national economy is likely to exceed 10 percent during the second quarter of this year, as against the estimated 9.5 percent for the first quarter.

The economy will slow down to at least eight percent during thesecond half of this year as the central government moved to regulate the macro-economy, said the vice-director.

The average growth rate for the economy in 2004 will stand at about nine percent, said the expert.

The economy is not overheating from the perspective of expanding employment, said the expert.

But in a State Council executive meeting presided by Premier Wen Jiabao Friday, the central government warned of excessive investment in some sectors, too many new construction projects, and copy-cat construction projects.

Xu said the fast-growing economy creates pressure on supplies of energy and grain, and financial and industrial and other economic security problems, commonly seen in developing countries.

China's consumption of steel stood at 260 million tons last year, accounting for one third of the world's total, Xu said.

China's oil imports may exceed 100 million tons this year, becoming the second biggest oil consuming country after the UnitedStates, he added.

Despite the huge demands, China has little power over pricing of those products, posing a great threat to the country's strategic economic security, said the vice-director.

The Chinese government set the seven percent growth rate targetearlier this year, which, if realized, will enable China to reap some 12 trillion yuan (1.45 trillion US dollars) worth of GDP in 2004.

The low-profile growth rate was set in a bid to ease the pressure on resources and environment after years of rapid economic growth, and put an end to the practice of solely seeking a high economic growth rate, to improve the quality of the economy,adjust economic structure, and reserve more resources for social progress.

In 2003, the Chinese economy grew by 9.1 percent despite the outbreak of the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), hitting a new record since the Asia financial crisis in the late 1990s.

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