China's Economy Roars Ahead

Clampdown expected soon

China's economy expanded at its fastest pace in over a decade in the second quarter, data showed July 19, raising expectations authorities will act quickly but not severely to stop overheating. With inflation picking up sharply, China recorded faster-than-expected growth of 11.9% in the second quarter and 11.5% in the first six months of the year, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said.

At the current rate of growth, China's GDP is now widely expected to overtake Germany's as the world's third-largest by the end of this year, having already topped Britain and France in 2005.

Officials and analysts said authorities would try to ensure the economy moderated from a pace not seen since the heady days of the mid-1990s, but that the boom would be allowed to continue. NBS spokesman Li Xiaochao said that a series of cooling measures this year, which included two interest rate hikes, had already had some impact and the government would do more. "We will continue to strengthen and improve macro-control measures," Li said at a press briefing to announce the figures. "We will continue to enhance the adjustment of the industrial structure to change the growth pattern and to enable the economy to grow healthily and quickly."

Li identified a range of "outstanding problems" in the economy. "(These are) the imbalance in international trade, inflation in food prices and the pressure on energy conservation and pollution reduction," he said.

China's factories also continued to speed up production, with industrial output up 18.5%, while fixed asset investment, a key measure of mostly government spending in infrastructure, rose 25.9% in the first half.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2007

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