BEIJING, Dec. 27 (Xinhua) -- Premier Wen Jiabao said Sunday Chinese people should be proud of their country's economic performance and the basket of economic stimulus measures had proven effective, but he readily admitted the economy had problems.
Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao (L) smiles during an exclusive interview with Xinhua News Agency at Ziguangge building inside Zhongnanhai, an office compound of the Chinese central authorities at the heart of Beijing, capital of China, Dec. 27, 2009. (Xinhua/Yao Dawei) Photo Gallery>>>
In an exclusive interview with Xinhua, Wen said China would stick to the pro-growth economic policies, while taking more measures to curb property speculation and maintain consumer prices at a reasonable range.
He acknowledged the Chinese economy could have been better "if our bank lending had been more balanced, better structured and not on such a large scale."
Wen also dismissed foreign pressure to allow the Chinese currency yuan to appreciate, saying demand for yuan appreciation, along with trade protectionism, was aimed at checking China's development.
CHINESE SHOULD BE PROUD
"The past year has been a breathtaking period," Wen said, recalling his inspection tours to places outside Beijing over last winter.
In Shenzhen and Dongguan, two major cities in south China's export heartland of Guangdong, many enterprises faced big difficulties after the financial crisis, he said.
Sluggish overseas demand had led to a wave of factory closures and layoffs in coastal manufacturing regions, including Guangdong, Zhejiang and Jiangsu, which caused a sudden slowing of growth of China's export-oriented economy. More than 20 million migrant workers had returned home late last year.
In the last quarter of 2008, GDP growth slid to 6.8 percent year-on-year, sharply down from 9 percent in the previous quarter.
"Our mood was very heavy. We didn't know how much this disaster (the financial crisis) could hurt the Chinese economy or how long it would last," said Wen.
Under such circumstances, the government adopted decisive policies and measures, he said, referring to the basket of economic stimulus measures, featuring the 4-trillion-yuan (585.6 billion U.S. dollars) investment plan, which was adopted on Nov. 5 last year.
"We have stabilized the economy and employment and maintained social stability over the past one year, which is a comfort to me," he said.
GDP grew 8.9 percent year on year in the third quarter this year, accelerating from 7.9 percent in the second quarter and 6.1 percent in the first. For the first three quarters, GDP grew at an annualized rate of 7.7 percent.
Other recent key economic indicators, such as industrial output and electricity consumption, showed China's economic recovery was accelerating and broadening.
According to the National Bureau of Statistics, industrial output, which measures the activities of almost 430,000 large industrial enterprises (those with an annual revenue exceeding 5 million yuan, or 732,000 U.S. dollars) nationwide, jumped 19.2 percent year on year In November. In the first 11 months, the growth rate was 10.3 percent.
"The financial crisis is not yet over..., but our work so far indicates that our (measures) are effective. People across the country should be proud of it," Wen said.
TOO EARLY TO GRADE PERFORMANCE
While China's economy began to recover, Wen said it was too early to grade economic performance as the financial crisis was not over yet and much more work was required.
Citing credit growth as an example, Wen admitted China might need to "pay some price and run into some unexpected difficulties" In tackling the global financial crisis.
"It could have been better if our bank lending had been more balanced, better structured and not on such a large scale," he said.
The moderately loose monetary policy, which the government adopted in November last year, spurred the surge in new lending.
In the first 11 months of this year, new loans hit 9.21 trillion yuan, an increase of 5.06 trillion yuan year on year, far exceeding the full year target of 5 trillion yuan the government set in March.
Wen said the State Council had noticed the problem in the middle of the year and moved to correct it. "It has been improving in the second half."
Credit expansion was one of the "unexpected difficulties" China had encountered in dealing with the worst crisis in decades, Wen said.
The State Council had to learn from past experience, detect problems and make persistent efforts to fight the crisis effectively, he said.
He admitted the State Council had time in the second half of the year to calmly reflect on the problems arising from the emergency response to the economic crisis.