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Official: China's Strong Domestic Demand to Keep Economy Growing

Zhang Ping, Chairman of China's National Development and Reform Commission, said on Tuesday that China's 1.3 billion consumers are set to underpin continuing Chinese growth, helping China to counter a slowdown across the industrialized world.

Zhang told a press conference in the parliament house jointly with Australian Treasurer Wayne Swan that China will be able maintain growth of around 9 percent despite the global financial crisis because of strong domestic demand.

"Due to the action of economic turbulence outside of China, there is some slowdown in our growth rate," Zhang said. "But according to my predictions I think the growth rate of China's economy will still be kept at 9 percent."

China would benefit from ongoing reform of its economy, Zhang said, as well as its substantial population.

"China is a country with 1.3 billion population, China itself is a large market," he said.

Zhang had talks with Treasurer Wayne Swan Tuesday morning and met with Prime Minister Kevin Rudd late in the afternoon. He is scheduled to meet Trade Minister Simon Crean on Wednesday.

"The importance of China and its economic growth to Australia and to the world has never been greater," Swan said at the press conference.

"Over the past 25 years, the Chinese economy has grown at an annual average rate of around 10 percent in real terms, and over the past decade it has accounted for around 20 percent of global growth.

"China is now our largest trading partner and second largest export destination," Swan told reporters.

Swan and Zhang discussed continuing negotiations on a free trade agreement, which began in 2005.

"Both sides have always acknowledged the FTA will take time and it will take time. We have a commitment to discuss all of the issues in the FTA" Swan said.

(Xinhua News Agency October 22, 2008)

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