China's economy expected to 'return to 7-8 percent growth in 2-3 years' - economist

A screen shows China's Premier Li Keqiang delivering a government work report during the opening session of the National People's Congress (NPC) at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, March 5, 2017. Photo: Reuters

China is very likely to return to a high growth period by the end of the 13th five-year development plan (2016-2020), said a Chinese economist on Sunday, after the Chinese government cut the gross domestic product (GDP) growth target for 2017 to around 6.5 percent from last year's target range of 6.5-7 percent.

"The 6.5 percent growth target is a reasonable and even a little bit conservative figure, but the Chinese economy is very likely to return to the high-speed growth of 7-8 percent in 2-3 years, or by the end of the 13th five-year development plan, helped by the deepening of reforms and the implementation of moderate policies," Chen Naixing, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, told the

Chen's forecast stems from his bet on China's efforts to push forward with the state-owned enterprise (SOE) and agricultural reforms and to promote technological advancement, as the country is transforming its economy from one driven by exports and investment to one based on innovation and efficiency enhancement.

"China will apply the rules of marketization in its state-owned enterprise reform, which will help unlock the big potential of the state-owned sectors needed to boost the economic growth," Chen said.

Thinking highly of the achievements China has made in maintaining high-speed economic growth of around 10 percent over the past decade largely by directing nearly 300 million rural laborers to the cities, Chen pointed out that the next key task is to deepen the reform of rural land ownership.

"If the government can do well in the rural land reform, such as switching to larger-scale operation from decentralized operation, achieving another 10 percent economic growth will not be a big problem in the future," the researcher said, adding that the enhancement of the agricultural mechanization serves as another important factor for economic growth.

Chen also said that China's efforts to promote innovation and technological development will bear fruit by the end of the 13th five-year development plan, when robots and high technologies will be widely used in sectors with low labor productivity.

On Sunday morning, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said in a government work report delivered to the annual session of the National People's Congress (NPC), China's top legislature, that the 2017 GDP growth target was set at around 6.5 percent, compared with a target range of 6.5-7 percent last year.

The premier explained that the projected economic growth target is in line with both economic principles and realities, which triggered concerns that the country's economy will continue to see a slowdown in the economic growth.

"Under the backdrop of the global economic recession, there is no reason to expect China to achieve double-digit growth (as it did in the past 10 years)," Chen said.

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