China's Economy Faces Considerable Downward Pressure, Xi Says

Chinese Consumers Projected to Spend $56T by 2025
  • Xi says China seeks free-trade agreements with high-standards
  • China is coping with the 'temporary pain' of deep reform

Chinese President Xi Jinping acknowledged downside risks to growth while assuring fellow leaders that Asia’s biggest economy is resilient and will remain on the path of reform.

China is working to overcome the challenges of slowing global growth this year by advancing reforms and won’t change its policy on foreign investment, Xi said at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation chief executives summit in Manila on Wednesday.

“In general, China’s positive economic fundamentals and long-term trajectory remain unchanged,” Xi said, taking the stage after U.S. President Barack Obama. “On the other hand, China’s economy is still coping with the complicated internal and external environment, considerable downward pressure and the temporary pain of deep reforms.”

China is on pace for the slowest expansion in 25 years, a worry for Asia’s smaller economies which have become increasingly reliant on it for export demand. Leaders are stepping up fiscal stimulus after six interest rate cuts in the past year failed to spur a revival in growth.

Reasonable Growth

Industrial output in China last month matched the weakest gain since the global credit crisis, while fixed-asset investment so far this year has increased at the slowest pace since 2000. Meanwhile, retail sales growth is accelerating, underscoring a shift in the economy toward greater reliance on consumer spending as old growth engines falter.

"Some economic indicators have somewhat fluctuated between months and quarters, but the overall economy has operated within the reasonable range and maintained steady and fairly rapid growth," Xi said.

Xi also touted China’s efforts to take a leadership role in the development and integration of Asia, citing his "One Belt, One Road" initiative to link the country with Europe through central and western Asia as well as the $100 billion China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.

China is working to complete the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership early, he said, and seeks high-standard free-trade agreements with other nations. He urged leaders to work quickly on the Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific, an agreement to link the 21 APEC countries Xi put on top of the agenda when members met last year in Beijing.

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