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China's Q2 growth may fall below 7%: media

SHANGHAI -- China's economic growth could fall below 7 percent in the second quarter, state media on Wednesday quoted an economist at an influential government-linked think thank as saying.

“If June economic statistics do not show an improvement, second quarter GDP growth perhaps will fall to below 7 percent,” vice chairman of the China Center for International Economic Exchanges, Zheng Xinli, told the overseas edition of the People's Daily newspaper.

The research institute is supervised by the National Development and Reform Commission, the government's top planner.

China's gross domestic product (GDP) grew an annual 8.1 percent in the first quarter of 2012 — its slowest pace in nearly three years.

The government has reduced its economic growth target for this year to just 7.5 percent, down from growth of 9.2 percent last year and 10.4 percent in 2010.

China has just released economic data for May which provided further evidence of a slowdown in the world's second-largest economy.

Industrial output grew at a slower-than-expected 9.6 percent year-on-year in May, a faster clip than the previous month but still near three-year lows, the data showed.

Zheng, who is former deputy director of the Policy Research Office of the Communist Party's powerful Central Committee, said China's GDP growth is typically three to five percentage points below industrial production.

China is already seeking to boost economic growth, cutting reserve requirements for banks three times since December and slashing interest rates just last week.

The government is also boosting bank lending and encouraging domestic consumption through favorable polices for selected sectors, amid weak exports to key markets like the United States and Europe.

In May, the World Bank forecast China's economy will expand 8.2 percent in 2012 but it warned policymakers must prevent an excessively abrupt slowdown.

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