Chinese PM believes country will maintain growth rate

Beijing, Jan 21 (IANS) Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang has expressed confidence that his country will maintain its growth rate this year, after it was revealed that the GDP grew 6.7 per cent year-on-year in 2016, according to officials on Saturday.

In statements made late Friday, Li Keqiang stated that China’s expansion was responsible for more than 30 percent of the global economic growth recorded last year, Efe news reported.

We have the confidence, the conditions and the capability to maintain this momentum this year, said Li.

The leader was echoing remarks made by President Xi Jinping at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, earlier this week, and argued China is a staunch supporter of liberalization and easing international trade and investment.

“The fundamental driving force of China’s economic and social development comes from reform and opening up,” said Li, as cited by Xinhua news agency.

Following criticism of Beijing’s protectionist policies this week by groups of foreign companies, the premier vowed to continue weeding out barriers to foreign investment in the Chinese market.

Li explained that China wants to create an open, transparent and just economic and regulatory environment to become a preferred international investment destination, although foreign capital growth in the country dipped to 4.1 per cent in 2016, compared to 6.4 per cent of the previous year.

While China’s 2016 GDP of 6.7 per cent – its lowest growth rate since 1990 – was slightly lower than the year before, it was in line with Beijing’s target of between 6.5 and 7 per cent.