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China Economy Growth Rate: 7.2 Pct

April 24, 1998

BEIJING (AP) _ China’s economy grew at a 7.2 percent pace in the first quarter, the state statistical bureau said Friday.

But China said it remained on target for 8 percent economic growth this year compared with 8.8 percent growth in 1997.

Chinese leaders believe 8 percent growth is the minimum needed to create enough jobs to prevent serious social unrest and allow important corporate and banking reforms to proceed.

The bureau’s chief economist, Qiu Xiaohua, said the economy ``has a solid material foundation and there’s a stable policy environment″ and that growth ``will steadily increase and the 8 percent target can be achieved.″

The slower rate in the first quarter was caused by ``the lagging effect of the battle against inflation in the previous years as well as the negative impact on China’s exports by the Southeast Asian financial crisis,″ Liu Shucheng, a senior economist with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, was quoted as saying the government’s Xinhua News Agency.

He said investment growth was accelerating gradually and would likely surpass 15 percent this year, helping achieve the growth target.

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