Business / Economy

Foreign experts confident about economic future

By Zhao Yinan and He Dan (China Daily) Updated: 2014-01-23 10:07

Foreign experts who attended a meeting with Premier Li Keqiang said they are confident about the Chinese economy in 2014, thanks to robust economic figures for last year.

Alistair Michie, adviser to China's Foreign Experts Advisers Committee, said he has no doubt that China will be able to deliver another decade of sustainable growth.

Michie was one of more than 70 foreign experts who attended a meeting with Premier Li Keqiang on Tuesday to offer suggestions on the nation's development.

China's gross domestic product grew by 7.7 percent last year despite domestic downside pressure and slow global economic recovery.

Some foreign analysts have claimed that China's economy has shown signs of weakness, but Michie told China Daily he agrees with the premier, who says such an argument is flawed.

"The facts are clear - 7.7 percent is a very positive indicator", Michie said. "It means the economic strategy is on track to improve the quality of growth and keep it at a sustainable rate.

"It gives clear signals that the country's planning and reform system is on course to deliver comparable growth and stability in coming years.

"What is amazing to me is the lack of curiosity by Western experts in analyzing how the Chinese system has delivered more than three decades of sustained high-level growth."

But he said he is concerned about rising property prices in China, and suggested that the central government learn from foreign countries where property speculation has been curbed.

Tatsuhito Tokuchi, managing director at CITIC Securities, who also attended Tuesday's meeting, said China delivered a decent growth report for 2013.

He warned that the biggest challenge is whether the country can carry out the difficult reform initiatives it drafted last year.

Chen Zhiwu, professor of finance at Yale University, dismissed the possibility of a hard landing for China's economy, saying it is slowing to a normal level of growth. "The decision-makers have tried to keep growth going at the right pace, including adopting proper monetary and fiscal policies," he said.

Chen, a Chinese American, said he has been mainly impressed by the changes in the real estate industry.

"The housing reforms that started in 1998 changed everything so drastically," he said.

"Over a short period, Chinese housing not only became abundantly available but also up to the best standards in the world. Better and more housing, plus private home ownership, has enriched the Chinese people," he said.

Despite "bumps" ahead for the economy, Chen said China will have the ability to face challenges and its economy will continue to grow.

Denis Fred Simon, vice-president of Arizona State University and another of the premier's guests on Tuesday, told China Daily he believes China is going through a "very natural transition" in its growth, as every major economy does after a period of rapid expansion.

"Chinese economic officials have been able to bring about a soft landing every time that some Western observers predicted a hard landing for the economy," he said.

But he said the bigger question is whether China can make the transition from a manufacturing-oriented economy to one driven by innovation.

He said this will change the foundation of the economy and produce a new growth model dominated by high-end knowledge and service industries.

He said the Chinese economy faces a range of challenges such as growing regional and social inequality, corruption and environmental pollution.

"If China is able to address its serious environmental and congestion problems, it will inspire greater confidence in the future," he said.

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