BEIJING (Reuters) - China’s Premier Wen Jiabao said efforts to stabilize the economy are working and the government will step up efforts in the second half of the year to increase policy effectiveness and foresight, the official Xinhua news agency reported on Sunday.
Wen, who made the comments during a weekend tour of Sichuan province in southwestern China, said the economy was running at a slower, more stable pace of growth.
“The economic growth rate is still within the government target range set early this year, and stabilization policies are working,” Wen was quoted as saying.
China reported on Friday that growth in the April-June period had slowed for a sixth successive quarter to its slackest in more than three years, with year-on-year growth of 7.6 percent just above the government’s 7.5 percent 2012 target.
It dragged the first half average down to 7.8 percent - below the 8 percent level that in previous downturns has triggered a robust response from policymakers, highlighting likely policy vigilance from Beijing even as signs emerge that action taken so far is beginning to stabilize the economy.
The GDP number, released in a flurry of Chinese data on Friday, was roughly in line with investor expectations.
Wen said China’s economic fundamentals remained sound and the country retained huge growth potential. He cited a bumper summer harvest, easing inflation and rising incomes as evidence.
Still, warning that an economic rebound is not yet guaranteed and that risks lay ahead, Wen said the second half of the year would see the government “increase efforts to preset and fine-tune its policies, and make policies more targeted, foresighted and effective.”
Those plans would combine stabilizing investment with implementing mid- to long-term development plans, promoting urbanization and agricultural modernization, improving incomes, upgrading industries, developing emerging markets and encouraging private investment, Wen said.
He added that more must be done to raise income and improve its distribution, enhance social networks and create more jobs, particularly for college graduates.
Reporting by Nick Edwards; Editing by Daniel Magnowski