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China expects 2010 world recovery

Updated:2009-03-13 14:59:23

China's Premier Wen Jiabao has said he expects that China and the rest of the world will be better off by next year.

He was speaking at a news conference in Beijing at the end of the annual session of China's National People's Congress - the country's parliament.

Mr Wen said his government was ready to introduce more economic stimulus measures if needed.

He also said the situation in Tibet was "peaceful and stable", proving China's policies in the region were "correct".

The news conference at the end of the annual NPC session is the only time that the premier takes questions from reporters.

'Difficult year'

Mr Wen said confidence would be necessary to overcome China - and the world's - economic difficulties.

"Confidence is more important than gold or money," he said.

"First and foremost we need very strong confidence. Only when we have confidence can we have courage and strength, and only when we have courage and strength can we overcome difficulties.

"I expect that next year both China and the world will be better off."

But Mr Wen said he was worried about the safety of billions of dollars of currency reserves China had loaned the US.

Opening the NPC session nine days ago, Mr Wen said that this year would be the most difficult China has faced this century.

Two days ago, official figures were released showing that Chinese exports plunged by more than a quarter in February from a year ago, to $64.9bn (£47.3bn), and imports fell by 24.1% to $60.1bn.

At Friday's news conference, Mr Wen said the government's economic stimulus programme included 1.18tr yuan ($172bn) in central government spending on "public welfare, technological innovation, environmental protection and infrastructure projects".

Costing $585bn (£413bn) altogether, the economic stimulus programme was announced by the government in November.

Mr Wen said the authorities had enough "ammunition" to launch new economic stimulus policies in case of greater difficulties.

The government is targeting annual growth of 8% and wants to boost consumption and raise consumer demand.

Correspondents say the Communist Party fears that if annual growth slips below 8%, there will be social instability.

Premier Wen said the growth target would be difficult to achieve, but possible.

He said he was worried, however, about the safety of the huge amount of China's foreign exchange reserves invested in US government bonds.

"We have made a huge amount of loans to the United States. Of course we are concerned about the safety of our assets. To be honest, I'm a little bit worried," Mr Wen said.

Nearly half of China's $2tn in currency reserves is invested in US treasury bills and other government-affiliated notes, the Associated Press news agency said.

"We are extremely interested in developments in the US economy," Mr Wen said.

'Tibet stability'

Speaking about Tibet, he brushed aside remarks earlier this week by the Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, that China had made life in the Himalayan region "hell on earth" for his people.

"Tibet's peace and stability and Tibet's continuous progress have proven the policies we have adopted are right," Mr Wen said.

The Dalai Lama was speaking from exile in India on Tuesday's 50th anniversary of a failed uprising against Chinese rule in Tibet.

Mr Wen said talks with representatives of the Dalai Lama could continue if he gave up his "separatist stance".

The Dalai Lama has said he seeks greater autonomy for Tibet within China, something China has rejected as a bid for "disguised independence".

Mr Wen also pressed France to clarify its position on Tibet, saying this was necessary to improve relations.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy incurred Beijing's wrath when he met the Dalai Lama in December last year.

"The problems that have arisen between China and France arose mainly because the French leader met the Dalai Lama in a prominent way, and this not only involved the core interests of China, it also seriously harmed the feelings of the Chinese people," Mr Wen said.


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