Consumption top priority for China's economic development, say officials
Liu Jiaxin

China's economy has grown by an average of 4.5 percent each year during the past three years. Consumer prices in China remained stable throughout 2022, with the Consumer Price Index rising by around 2 percent. Moreover, production, sales, and exports of new energy vehicles rank first globally. But officials remain cautious.

The 2022-2023 Annual Economic Conference, held by the China Center for International Economic Exchanges, kicked off in Beijing on Saturday. Several Chinese economic and financial officials discussed China's economic blueprint outlined at the just-concluded Central Economic Work Conference.

Han Wenxiu, an official with the Central Committee for Financial and Economic Affairs, noted that while fully recognizing China’s achievements, “we must also be aware that challenges remain.”

“The epidemic still poses a negative impact, industrial supply chains are not functioning smoothly, the production and business activities of enterprises are hindered, the scientific and technological innovation capacity is not strong, new factors to boost growth are not sufficient, the real estate sector is facing a downward trend, social development such as employment is also facing a challenge,” Han said.

China still faces contracted demand, supply chain disruption, and a weakened outlook. This, coupled with an increasingly unstable international situation, presents China's economy with significant challenges. Therefore, the country has identified economic stability as a top priority for the coming year and will continue to implement a proactive fiscal policy and prudent monetary policy. In addition, domestic demand will continue to be the economy's driving force.

“Domestic demand is key to both economic development and people's livelihoods. The main part of domestic demand is consumption. We need to actively restart consumption,” said Ning Jizhe, an official with the CPPCC National Committee.

Ning said transportation volume in China fell by more than 28 percent year on year from January to November, while sports, entertainment, and travel fell by more than 10 percent. Hundreds of millions of individual businesses and small service businesses are affected.

Officials estimate that China's GDP will hit over 120 trillion yuan ($17 trillion) in 2022. Despite the short-term impact of the epidemic, they expect the economy to pick up in the second quarter of next year as epidemic prevention and control efforts are better coordinated with economic and social development.

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