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China Is Prepared for Rough Economy Ahead, Li Says

China's Premier Li Keqiang speaks during a press conference after the closing session of the National People's Congress at the Great Hall of the People on March 13 in Beijing
China's Premier Li Keqiang speaks during a press conference after the closing session of the National People's Congress at the Great Hall of the People on March 13 in BeijingPhotograph by Feng Li/Getty Images

Even as China’s economy shows further signs of weakening, Premier Li Keqiang said his government is prepared for challenges. “The Chinese economy has huge potential and flexibility. We have the ability and conditions to keep this year’s economic operation within the reasonable range,” he told reporters during a press conference on Thursday at the closing of the National People’s Congress in Beijing. “We should first grind the ax before cutting firewood. We squarely face the difficulties and challenges, draw on advantages and avoid disadvantages. This is how we overcome difficulties.”

China’s industrial production, retail sales, and investment growth all came in below expectations for the first two months of the year. Factory output grew 8.6 percent in the first two months, the National Bureau of Statistics announced on March 13, less than the 9.5 percent expected in a survey by Bloomberg News.