China will put the brakes on its economic bullet train

08:32, April 19, 2011      

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Just as it lowered the speed of its Beijing-Shanghai bullet train to ensure safety and affordability, China is trying to slow down its rapid economic growth to encourage sustainability over the next five years.

The government's efforts can be seen in economic data from the first quarter of 2011, or the start of China's 12th five-year development plan. China's economy expanded by 9.7 percent in the first quarter, tapering slightly from the 9.8 percent growth posted in the fourth quarter of last year, according to economic data released last week.

Sheng Laiyun, a spokesman from the National Bureau of Statistics, called the performance a sign of "steady growth" and "a good beginning."

Consumer spending contributed 5.9 percentage points to the country's gross domestic product in the first quarter, exceeding the 4.3 percentage points contributed by investment. This makes consumer spending the biggest driver of the world's second largest economy.

China also saw a trade deficit of 1.02 billion U.S. dollars from January to March this year, the first quarterly trade deficit in six years.

Furthermore, private investment rose 31.5 percent year-on-year in the first quarter, 6.5 percentage points higher than the overall investment growth rate.

Analysts said this data indicates that China's domestic consumption is picking up. Stimulating domestic consumption is just one of the tasks outlined in the government's five-year economic blueprint.
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