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China's Economy Grows 9.5% In 1st Quarter

China's economy grew 9.5% in the first quarter, the same rate as for all of 2004 and compared to 9.7 % in the same period last year, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) announced April 20. Economic output by value totaled 3.13 trillion yuan ($379 billion) in the three months to March.

Fixed asset investment, which reflects government spending on infrastructure, increased 22.8% in the first quarter, just slightly slower than the 25.8% growth rate for 2004, according to the figures.

"The total size of investment is too large. Shortages of coal, electricity, petroleum and transportation are still prominent," NBS spokesman Zheng Jingpin said, warning of continuing pressure on resources to fuel the rapidly expanding economy. Zheng indicated China still faced difficulties trying to cool down the economy to prevent it from overheating.

The Chinese government has targeted growth of around 8% this year but many non-government economists expect 8 or 9%, or even more. For the past year the government has been implementing a campaign to cool soaring fixed investment levels and bring the economy back onto a more sustainable growth track. The campaign has centered on pegging back credit to the most overheating sectors -- autos, steel and real estate -- while trying to bring fixed asset investment under some measure of control.

Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2005

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