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China statistics chief plays down oil price impact

Written by: Staff
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BEIJING, March 5 (Reuters) World oil prices will stabilise in the absence of major new shocks and should not have a big impact on either the global or the Chinese economies, Li Deshui, head of the National Bureau of Statistics, said on Sunday.

''Stable global oil prices can be achieved if we all try to avoid major shocks,'' Li told reporters on the sidelines of the annual meeting of China's parliament.

China is shielded to some extent from high oil prices because it is a sizeable producer not only of oil -- it imports just over 40 percent of its consumption -- but also of coal and hydro power, Li said.

He said China would find it hard to hit the target unveiled on Sunday by Premier Wen Jiabao for a 4 percent reduction this year in the amount of energy needed to produce each dollar of national income.

The solution, Li said, lay with upgrading technology and improving the structure of the economy so that energy and resources are used less intensively.

China burns over four times more energy to generate a unit of economic output than the average Group of Seven developed country, according to the Asian Development Bank.

Li played down the goal of 8 percent gross domestic product growth for 2006 set by Wen, saying it was not a hard-and-fast target.

The government typically sets cautious growth targets. It also had a working assumption of 8 percent for 2005 but actual growth turned out to be 9.9 percent.

REUTERS SY VC1655

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