China to cut down GDP to 7 per cent: Wen

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K J M VarmaBeijing, Feb 27 (PTI) Looking to change the growthpattern of its exports driven economy to that of one driven bydomestic consumption, China today said it looks to scale downits double GDP growth to seven per cent to focus on improvingthe standard of living of its people.

In a live chat with netizens, Chinese Premier WenJiabao today said the government is to set its annual grossdomestic product (GDP) growth target for the 2011-2015 periodat seven per cent, highlighting the need to raise the qualityof growth and improve living standards.

The target was lower than the 7.5 per cent for theprevious five years, when China''s economy grew at an annualrate of about 10 per cent from 2006 to 2010.

"We''ll never seek a high economic growth rate and sizeat the price of the environment, as that would result inunsustainable growth with industrial overcapacity andintensive resource consumption," Wen said.

His comments came as China recently adopted new fiveyear plan starting from this year to reshape its export driveneconomy to the one to be driven by domestic consumption.

Though China has emerged as second largest economythis year, overtaking Japan, its per capita income remainedaround USD 4500, far lower than the Japan and other developedcountries.

China wants to reduce dependence on cheap exportswhich kept the wage levels of its workers at low levels andlooks to opt for high technology industries that could fetchbetter wages for its workforce.

In view of the shift, Chinese economists have beensaying the shift would bring down the growth rate. This couldalso result in China dipping into the USD 2.8 trillion to makebetter use of them.

Wen said his government would adopt new performanceevaluation criteria for local governments and give more weightto efficiency, environment protection and living standards,said Wen.

He said transforming the growth pattern was not easy.

"In some places, I have seen, urban construction isvery fast, but as you walk along, you see shabby rural streetsand housing, and some farmers are still hard pressed to payschools the 100-yuan heating fees for their kids," Wen said.

"Therefore, I tell local officials, wouldn''t it bebetter if we construct fewer high buildings and spend thefunds for expanding the urban scale on raising livingstandards?" he said.

Wen said in the final analysis, "we should change thecriteria for evaluating officials'' work." "The supremecriterion for assessing their performance is whether thepeople feel happy and satisfied, rather than skyscrapers."He said it is important to ensure fair incomedistribution in the country to bring about social stability.

Income distribution has a direct bearing on socialjustice and stability, Wen said during an online chat withInternet users.

"We will ensure that people''s income increase be keptpace with economic growth and people''s salary growth be keptpace with the productivity rise," he said.

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