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China's Economy Continues Surge

China's economy, the fourth largest in the world, grew 11.1 percent in the first quarter compared with the same period a year earlier. Economic growth has been at or above 10 percent for the past five years, and a government official says continued growth at this level could lead to problems. Daniel Schearf reports from Beijing.

China's National Bureau of Statistics says the 11.1 percent growth in gross domestic product in the first quarter was due to large and increasing rates of growth in nearly every economic sector.

Exports, a major driver of the Chinese economy, were up by 27.8 percent, while output by heavy industry rose 19.6 percent.

The spokesman for the bureau, Li Xiaochao, says the only indicator rate not to see improvement was fixed-asset investment - and that grew at 23.7 percent.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao last month said the government was aiming to slow growth to eight percent growth this year. But most economists say they doubt that target will be reached.

Li says the government foresees problems if growth stays at the current high level. Talking to journalists, he cited several problem areas.

"The outstanding problems in China's economy are the high trade surplus, excessive liquidity, irrational economic structure, and high pressure on the reduction of energy consumption and pollution emission," he said.

Li says high growth could also increase the already large and politically sensitive trade surplus.

He says the government will continue to look for ways to slow the economy down.

Beijing's central bank has already raised interest rates and the proportion of cash banks have to keep in reserve in an attempt to control the amount of money in circulation. Even so, the amount of cash rose 16.7 percent in the first quarter.

China's stock markets closed lower as investors speculated that the central bank would again raise interest rates to try to dampen liquidity and excess investment.

 

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