China to boost economic demand, speed up infrastructure

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People shop at the Sanya International Duty-Free Shopping Complex in Sanya, Hainan province, China November 25, 2020. REUTERS/Tingshu Wang

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BEIJING, Aug 16 (Reuters) - China will boost economic demand in a strong, reasonable and moderate manner and accelerate infrastructure construction in the third quarter of the year, officials from the state planner said on Tuesday.

The comments came after bleak data for July, which showed the world's second-biggest economy unexpectedly slowed and property investment falling at the fastest clip this year. read more

"China will optimize policies for sustained economic recovery, macro policies should expand demand actively in a strong, reasonable and moderate manner," Yuan Da, a spokesperson at the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), told a news conference.

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China will step up the use of special local government bonds and new credit granted by policy banks, Yuan added.

NDRC in July approved eight fixed-asset investment projects worth 236.8 billion yuan ($34.89 billion).

As of July 31, China had issued most of the 3.45 trillion yuan in special bonds earmarked for infrastructure, Luo Guosan, an official at the NDRC's infrastructure development department told the same news conference. That was part of the 2022 annual special bond quota of 3.65 trillion yuan.

China is stepping up spending on infrastructure projects to prop up the flagging economy, which has been hobbled by strict COVID-19 restrictions, a troubled property market and weak consumption.

Infrastructure investment grew 7.4% in the first seven months of the year from the same period a year earlier, data from the statistics bureau showed on Monday.

"Youth employment has been under greater pressure this year due to overlap of structural, cyclical and seasonal factors," Yuan also said.

"China will roll out practical measures to support youth start-up businesses and job employment."

The employment situation remained fragile. Official data on Monday showed that the nationwide survey-based jobless rate eased slightly in July from June, while youth unemployment stayed stubbornly high, reaching a record 19.9% in July.

($1 = 6.7867 Chinese yuan)

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Reporting by Liangping Gao and Ryan Woo; Editing by Christian Schmollinger and Sam Holmes

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