In the first half of the year, China's economy withstood the challenging test from the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), said Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao Sunday in Hong Kong.
In a speech delivered after the signing ceremony of the Mainland/Hong Kong Closer Economic Partnership Arrangement (CEPA),Wen updated people from various communities in Hong Kong about the economic situation on the Mainland.
Wen said the economy was off to a good start in the first quarter, characterized by a 9.9 percent GDP growth, continued expansion of agriculture and industries, rapid increases in fixed asset investment, import and export trade and utilization of overseas capital, and steady rises in consumption.
In the two months of April and May, however, SARS quickly spread in some regions and the country's economic life was severely affected, with Guangdong, Beijing and Northern China especially hard hit, Wen noted.
The premier said the most direct problems were disrupted logistics, reduced consumption and impeded exchanges with the outside world.
"Insofar as we can tell, part of SARS economic aftermath has already appeared, yet we may still experience more as time goes by," he said.
However, the premier stressed, "While SARS may have slowed down our economic growth in the second quarter, it did not, given its fleeting and parochial impact, hurt our economic fundamentals overall, nor has it altered the trend of relatively high economic growth in our country."
He said the economic indicators of the hard-hit sectors began to show a rebound.
"According to our preliminary estimate, China's GDP in the first half of the year will grow by over 8 percent, and this year's target of 7 percent growth rate is attainable," he said.
The premier said that the Party Central Committee and the State Council adopted a two-pronged approach in face of SARS.
"On the one hand, we focused our attention and energy on fighting SARS, while on the other, we continued to unswervingly pursue economic development," he said.
Wen said the economy and people's life in the Mainland are coming back to normal and the disease control work is shifting to the law-based, scientific, standardized and orderly track after the World Health Organization lifted the travel advisory on Beijing and the removal of Beijing from the list of areas with recent local transmissions on June 24.
In terms of promoting economic growth, a series of targeted steps has been taken in a timely manner, Wen said.
For those hard-hit sectors, short-term support measures were introduced, such as tax breaks, reduced administrative fees, loan subsidies, etc., he said, adding that efforts have also been made to increase investment volume and optimize investment structure, guide and stimulate consumption, and cultivate new growth points.
"We also endeavored to improve our performance in export trade and attracting overseas investment, promote employment in export trade and attracting overseas investment, promote employment and social security and show greater care to the life and work of people in difficulty," Wen said.
"These measures have achieved marked results," said the premier.