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March 27, 2017

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Nation is balancing reforms and risks, NDRC chief says

Minister pledges prudent policy to curb property speculation

China will continue to deepen its supply-side structural reform to address economic imbalances while holding the bottom line to contain risks in the financial and property markets, the head of the top economic planner said on Sunday.

He Lifeng, minister of the National Development and Reform Commission, warned about the tendency of capital abandoning real economic activities and engaging in financial speculation, as well as excessive funds flowing into the property sector.

"The excessive capital has resulted in surging housing prices in some key cities and pushed up the costs for the real economy," he said in a speech at the China Development Forum in Beijing.

Policymakers will use prudent monetary policy, targeted industrial policy and better regulatory coordination to properly dispose of nonperforming assets and to ensure systemic financial risks are avoided, the minister said.

He also vowed to strictly control excessive credit from flowing into the property sector, saying that the government will make efforts to ensure the stable and healthy development of the market by using tailored policies and a long-term mechanism.

In addition, he said, China will continue to cut excess industrial capacity, dispose of loss-making "zombie" companies, and reduce corporate burden and leverage as part of the ongoing supply-side reform to address economic imbalances.

Kristalina Georgieva, chief executive of the World Bank, said at the forum that China's supply-side structural reform is an important and timely move.

"The reform is essential to accelerate growth and create jobs," she said. "It is timely because the effort to stimulate growth is becoming more pressing ... as stagnant global trade, low investment and heightened policy uncertainties made 2016 another difficult year."

She added that more than 30 percent of global growth last year came from China, which was a major achievement.

Jose Vinals, chairman of Standard Chartered, said it was wise for the Chinese authorities to lower their growth target for this year to around 6.5 percent, as it will create more leeway for the reform to focus on internal economic rebalancing.

"Accepting lower growth in the short term, but rebalancing the economy with a better policy mix such as less expansionary monetary policy and more expansionary fiscal policy, will lead China into a more sustainable growth prospect," he said.

"All of the reforms, including reining in corporate leverage, reforming State-owned enterprises and putting more weight on the new economy industries, will pay off in the future high growth."

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