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Xi Says 2014 Environment for Economic Development Not Optimistic

Chinese President Xi Jinping said the environment for economic and social development next year isn’t optimistic, in a signal that leaders may be willing to accept slower growth in 2014.

All of society should be allowed to feel “tangible benefits” from reforms, Xi said at a symposium on Nov. 22, according a report from the official Xinhua News Agency yesterday.

Xi’s comments, which echoed past statements by party officials, may reflect efforts to tamp expectations for growth in 2014. While industrial investment is picking up and the Ministry of Commerce says retail sales will rise more than 13 percent this year, China faces headwinds that include factory overcapacity, excessive corporate debt and slower export demand.

“While the overall situation is good, the environment for economic and social development next year is not optimistic,” Xinhua said, paraphrasing remarks made by Xi. He said reform should be integrated into all sectors.

China may set its 2014 gross domestic product growth target at 7 percent, down from 7.5 percent this year, the Economic Information Daily said yesterday, citing research groups. Economists estimate growth in gross domestic product will slow to 7.5 percent next year from 7.6 percent this year, according to the median projection in Bloomberg News surveys last month.

Premier Li Keqiang said in October that China needs annual growth of 7.2 percent to keep unemployment stable after indicating in July his “bottom line” for expansion was 7 percent.

Xinhua released Xi’s remarks came after data showed this week that Chinese manufacturing growth beat analysts’ estimates in November. The Purchasing Managers’ Index was 51.4, the National Bureau of Statistics and China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing said on Dec. 1, exceeding 24 out of 26 estimates in a Bloomberg News survey.

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