SCIO briefing on national economic performance in 2014

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Mr. Ma Jiantang, commissioner of the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS)

Guo Weimin, director-general of the Press Bureau, State Council Information Office

January 20, 2015

 Guo Weimin:


Ladies and gentlemen, good morning! Welcome to today's press conference, which has attracted a lot of attention from the media at home and abroad. We are glad to have Mr. Ma Jiantang, commissioner of the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), here today to tell you about the performance of China's national economy in 2014 and take your questions. Mr. Sheng Laiyun, spokesperson for the National Bureau of Statistics and director-general of the Department of Comprehensive Statistics under the National Bureau of Statistics is also present at this press conference. Now let's give the floor to Mr. Ma for a brief introduction.

Ma Jiantang:

Ladies and gentlemen, friends, good morning! Time flies. At the beginning of 2015, I am very glad to have the chance to meet you again and summarize for you the statistics of the Chinese economy during the last year, before I answer your questions.

In 2014, faced with the complicated and volatile international environment and the important tasks of maintaining domestic development, reform and stability, the Central Committee of the CPC and the State Council have adhered to the general tone of "moving forward while maintaining stability", seized the momentum of development, fully deepened reform and opening up, focused on the innovation of macro control, tapped into the vitality of the market and fostered the driving force of innovation. As a result, the national economy has been running steadily under the "new normal," showing good stable growth momentum, optimized structure, enhanced quality and an improved people's livelihood.

According to preliminary estimations, China's gross domestic product (GDP) in 2014 was 63.65 trillion yuan, an increase of 7.4 percent at comparable prices. Specifically, year-on-year growth in the first quarter was 7.4 percent, the second quarter 7.5 percent, the third quarter 7.3 percent, and the fourth quarter 7.3 percent. The added value of the primary industry was 5.83 trillion yuan, up by 4.1 percent; secondary industry 27.14 trillion yuan, up by 7.3 percent; and tertiary industry 30.67 trillion yuan, up by 8.1 percent. The gross domestic product of the fourth quarter of 2014 increased by 1.5 percent on a quarterly basis.

1.Agricultural production showed good momentum.

The total grain output in 2014 was 607.10 million tons, an increase of 5.16 million tons, up 0.9 percent. The total output of summer grain was 136.60 million tons, an increase of 3.6 percent; the total output of early rice was 34.01 million tons, a decrease of 0.4 percent; the total output of autumn grain was 436.49 million tons, an increase of 0.1 percent. The total output of cereals was 557.27 million tons, an increase of 0.8 percent. The total output of cotton in 2014 was 6.16 million tons, a decrease of 2.2 percent. The total output of pork, beef, mutton and poultry was 85.40 million tons, an increase of 2.0 percent, among which the total output of pork was 56.71 million tons, an increase of 3.2 percent. The total output of poultry eggs in 2014 was 28.94 million tons, an increase of 0.6 percent; the total output of milk was 37.25 million tons, an increase of 5.5 percent.

2.Industrial production stayed within a reasonable range.

The total value added of the industrial enterprises above designated size (enterprises above designated size refer to all industrial enterprises with revenue from principal business over 20 million yuan) in 2014 was up by 8.3 percent at comparable prices. An analysis by types of ownership showed that the value added growth of the state-owned and state holding enterprises was 4.9 percent; that of the collective enterprises 1.7 percent; share-holding enterprises 9.7 percent; and enterprises funded by foreign investors or investors from Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan, 6.3 percent. In terms of sectors, the value added of the mining industry grew by 4.5 percent compared with last year, manufacturing by 9.4 percent and electricity, thermal power, gas and the production and supply of water by 3.2 percent. The growth rates in eastern, central and western regions were up by 7.6 percent, 8.4 percent and 10.6 percent respectively. Of the 464 kinds of industrial products, the output of 329 kinds increased compared with last year. In 2014, the sales-output ratio of industrial enterprises above designated size reached 97.8 percent. The export delivery value of these enterprises reached 12.09 trillion yuan, up 6.4 percent. In December, the total value added of the industrial enterprises above designated size was up by 7.9 percent year-on-year or up by 0.75 percent month-on-month.

From January to November, the profits made by industrial enterprises above designated size stood at 5.62 trillion yuan, up by 5.3 percent year-on-year. Of this total, the profit from principal activities was 5.29 trillion yuan, up by 4.7 percent. The costs for per-hundred-yuan turnover of principal activities of the industrial enterprises above designated size reached 85.91 yuan and the profit rate of the principal activities was 5.69 percent.

3.Growth of investment in fixed assets slowed down.

In 2014, investment in fixed assets (excluding rural households) was 50.2 trillion yuan, the nominal year-on-year growth of 15.7 percent over last year (a real growth of 15.1 percent after deducting price factors). Specifically, investment by state-owned and state holding enterprises reached 16.16 trillion yuan, a rise of 13.0 percent; private investment reached 32.16 trillion yuan, up 18.1 percent, accounting for 64.1 percent of the total investment. In terms of different areas, the growth in eastern, central and western regions was 14.6 percent, 17.2 percent and 17.5 percent respectively. The investment in the primary industry was 1.2 trillion yuan, up 33.9 percent; the secondary industry 20.81 trillion yuan, up by 13.2 percent; and the tertiary industry 28.19 trillion yuan, an increase of 16.8 percent. The funds in place for investment in 2014 were 53.08 trillion yuan, up 10.6 percent. Specifically, the state budget went up by 14.1 percent, domestic loans up by 8.6 percent, self-raising funds up by 14.4 percent, foreign investment down by 6.3 percent. The total investment in newly-started projects in 2014 was 40.65 trillion yuan, an increase of 13.6 percent. In December, investment in fixed assets (excluding rural households) grew by 1.21 percent month-on-month.

The total investment in real estate development in 2014 was 9.5 trillion yuan, a nominal growth of 10.5 percent (a real growth of 9.9 percent after deducting price factors). In particular, investment in residential buildings went up by 9.2 percent. The newly started floor space was 1.80 billion square meters, down by 10.7 percent. Specifically, the floor space of residential buildings went down by 14.4 percent. The floor space of commercial buildings sold was 1.21 billion square meters, down by 7.6 percent. Specifically, the floor space of residential buildings sold was down by 9.1 percent. The total sales of commercial buildings were 7.63 trillion yuan, down by 6.3 percent. Specifically, the sales of residential buildings were down by 7.8 percent. The land space purchased for real estate development was 333.83 million square meters, down by 14.0 percent. By the end of December, the floor space of commercial buildings for sale was 621.69 million square meters, up by 26.1 percent. The funds in place for real estate development enterprises reached 12.2 trillion yuan, down by 0.1 percent over last year.

4.Market sales enjoyed a steady growth.

In 2014, the total retail sales of consumer goods reached 26.24 trillion yuan, a nominal annual rise of 12.0 percent (a real growth of 10.9 percent after deducting price factors). Specifically, the retail sales of consumer goods by enterprises (units) above designated size stood at 13.32 trillion yuan, up by 9.3 percent. Analyzed by different areas, retail sales in urban areas reached 22.64 trillion yuan, up 11.8 percent, and the retail sales in rural areas stood at 3.6 trillion yuan, up 12.9 percent. Grouped by consumption patterns, the income of catering industry was 2.79 trillion yuan, up 9.7 percent; and the retail sales of goods were 23.45 trillion yuan, up 12.2 percent. In particular, the retail sales of the enterprises (units) above designated size reached 12.5 trillion yuan, an increase of 9.8 percent. In December, the nominal growth of total retail sales of consumer goods was 11.9 percent over last year (a real growth of 11.5 percent after deducting price factors), or 1.01 percent month-on-month.

In 2014, the online retail sales reached 2.79 trillion yuan, an increase of 49.7 percent compared with last year and online retail sales by enterprises (units) above the designated size stood at 440 billion yuan, up 56.2 percent.

5.Growth of imports and exports slowed.

The total value of imports and exports in 2014 was 26.43 trillion yuan, an increase of 2.3 percent. The total value of exports was 14.39 trillion yuan, up by 4.9 percent; the total value of imports was 12.04 trillion yuan, a decrease of 0.6 percent. The trade balance was 2.35 trillion yuan in surplus. In December, the total value of imports and exports was 2.49 trillion yuan, a year-on-year growth of 4.2 percent. Of this total, the value of exports was 1.4 trillion yuan, up by 9.9 percent; and that of imports was 1,09 trillion yuan, down by 2.3 percent.

6.Consumer prices increased slowly.

In 2014, consumer priced went up by 2.0 percent. Specifically, prices went up by 2.1 percent in urban areas and 1.8 percent in rural areas. Grouped by commodity categories, prices for food rose by 3.1 percent; tobacco, liquor and related articles decreased by 0.6 percent; clothing was up by 2.4 percent; household facilities, articles and maintenance services were up by 1.2 percent; health care and personal articles grew by 1.3 percent; transportation and communication down by 0.1 percent; recreation, education and cultural articles and services up by 1.9 percent and housing was up by 2.0 percent. In terms of food prices, grain grew up by 3.1 percent, oil or fat was down by 4.9 percent, pork was down by 4.3 percent, fresh vegetables were down by 1.5 percent. In December, consumer prices went up by 1.5 percent year-on-year, or 0.3 percent up month-on-month. In 2014, producer prices for industrial products went down by 1.9 percent compared with last year, while the prices in December dropped by 3.3 percent year-on-year and 0.6 percent month-on-month. The purchasing price for industrial producers was down by 2.2 percent compared with last year and in December, the price was down by 4.0 percent year-on-year and 0.8 percent month-on-month.

7.Residents' incomes continued to increase.

Based on the integrated household survey, in 2014, the national per capita disposable income was 20,167 yuan, a nominal growth of 10.1 percent or a real increase of 8.0 percent after deducting price factors. In terms of permanent residents, the per capita disposable income of urban households was 28,844 yuan, a nominal growth of 9.0 percent, or a real growth of 6.8 percent after deducting price factors. The per capita disposable income of rural residents was 10,489 yuan, up by 11.2 percent nominally, or 9.2 percent in real terms. The median of the national disposal income was 17,570 yuan, a nominal increase of 12.4 percent. Taking the per capita disposable income of nationwide households by income quintiles, that of the low-income group reached 4,747 yuan, the lower-middle-income group 10,887 yuan, the middle-income group 17,631 yuan, the upper-middle-income group 26,937 yuan, and the high-income group 50,968 yuan. The Gini Coefficient for national income in 2014 was 0.469. The per capita net income of rural residents was 9,892 yuan, an increase of 9.2 percent after deducting price factors. The number of rural migrant workers at the end of the year was 273.95 million, 5.01 million more than in the previous year, or up by 1.9 percent. Specifically, there were 105.74 million and 168.21 million local and outside workers respectively, up by 2.8 and 1.3 percent. The average monthly income of migrant workers was 2,864 yuan, up 9.8 percent.

8.Structural adjustment achieved stable progress.

The industrial structure was further optimized. In 2014, the value added of the tertiary industry accounted for 48.2 percent of GDP, 1.3 percentage points higher than last year, 5.6 percentage points higher than that of the secondary industry. The structure of domestic demand was further improved. In 2014, the final consumption expenditure accounted for 51.2 percent of GDP, 3.0 percentage points higher than last year. The income gap between urban and rural households was further narrowed. In 2014, the real growth of the per capita disposable income of rural households was 2.4 percentage points faster than that of urban households. The per capita disposable income of urban households was 2.75 times of the rural households, 0.06 less than last year. Energy conservation and consumption reduction continued to make new achievements. In 2014, the energy consumption per unit of GDP decreased by 4.8 percent compared with last year.

9.Money supply maintained a steady growth.

By the end of December, the balance of broad money (M2) was 122.84 trillion yuan, an increase of 12.2 percent compared with that at the end of last year; the balance of narrow money (M1) was 34.81 trillion yuan, up by 3.2 percent; and the balance of cash in circulation (M0) was 6.03 trillion yuan, a rise of 2.9 percent. At the end of December, the amount of outstanding loans was 81.68 trillion yuan, while the amount of outstanding deposits was 113.86 trillion yuan. In 2014, new loans reached 9.78 trillion yuan, an increase of 890 billion yuan; the new deposits were 9.48 trillion yuan, or 3.08 trillion yuan less than last year. Social financing reached 16.46 trillion yuan, a decrease of 859.8 billion yuan.

10.Population and employment were generally steady.

By the end of 2014, the total population of Chinese mainland was 1.37 billion (including a population of 31 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities, and servicemen in the Chinese People's Liberation Army; but not including residents in the Hong Kong SAR, Macao SAR, Taiwan Province and overseas Chinese), an increase of 7.1 million over that at the end of 2013. In 2014, the number of births was 16.87 million and the birth rate was 12.37 in a thousand; the number of deaths was 9.77 million with a death rate of 7.16 in a thousand; the natural growth rate was 5.21 in a thousand, an increase of 0.29 in a thousand. In terms of gender, the male population was 700.79 million, and female population was 667.03 million; the sex ratio of total population was 105.06 (the female is 100, male to female); the sex ratio at birth was 115.88. Population at the working age of 16-59 was 915.83 million, a decrease of 3.71 million as compared that at the end of 2013, and it accounted for 67.0 percent of the total population; population aged 60 and over was 212.42 million, which was 15.5 percent of the total population; population aged 65 and over was 137.55 million, accounting for 10.1 percent of the total population. In terms of the urban-rural structure, the urban population was 749.16 million, an increase of 18.05 million over the previous year; and the rural population was 618.66 million, a decrease of 10.95 million. The proportion of urban population to total population was 54.77 percent. The population who reside in street communities but with permanent household registration elsewhere and having been away from that place for more than 6 months reached 298 million, which was 9.44 million more than the previous year. Specifically, the migrant population was 253 million, or 8 million more. At the end of the year, the total number of employed persons was 772.53 million, or 2.76 million more than the end of 2013; the number of urban employed persons was 393.10 million, or 10.7 million more.

Generally speaking, China's economy has achieved stable progress with improved quality under the "new normal" in 2014. However, we should also be aware that the domestic and international situations are still complicated and economic development faces difficulties and challenges. In the next stage, we must implement the spirit of the Central Economic Work Conference and fulfill the decisions of the Central Committee of the CPC and the State Council. We must adhere to the principle of maintaining stable progress, focus on the improvement of the quality and efficiency of the economic development and proactively adapt to the "new normal." We must keep the operation of the economy within a proper range, prioritize economic transformation and structural adjustment, focus on reform and major breakthroughs, highlight the driving force of innovation, strengthen risk prevention, improve the people's livelihood and security and promote a sound and steady economic growth and social harmony and stability.

Guo Weimin:

Thanks Mr. Ma. The major economic data for the year 2014 have been issued. Now Mr. Ma will take your questions. Please indicate which media outlet you are from.


As we see, China's GDP grew by 7.4 percent in 2014. How would you explain the relationship between the GDP and the "reasonable range," which was set at the beginning of last year? And how would you evaluate China's economic performance in 2014?

Ma Jiantang:

Thank you for your question. In 2014, we overcame many challenges and difficulties, withstood economic downward pressure and eventually achieved a growth rate of 7.4 percent. It's fair to say that we have achieved the target of around 7.5 percent which we set last year. At the "Lianghui" (NPC and CPPCC) last year and the Central Economic Work Conference at the end of 2013, the expected economic growth rate in 2015 was set at around 7.5 percent.

The past year has been tough and remarkable as we have experienced many ups and downs. The most important thing was that the world economy had witnessed a bumpy, sluggish and complicated recovery. The three periods, namely the gear shifting period of economic growth, the period of structural readjustment and the period of digesting stimulating policy, heaped pressures on the economy. Most of us can identify with these conditions. Facing the severe situation and complex reform and development tasks, the CPC Central Committee and the State Council stuck to making progress while ensuring stability, implementing proactive financial policies and prudent monetary policies, and focused on promoting reform and innovation and cultivating a new driving force. It was truly not easy to achieve such progress.

With regard to the 7.4 percent growth, when we evaluate it, the criteria should adapt to the "new normal," and the evaluation itself also needs to be readjusted. The 7.4 percent growth rate was achieved by overcoming many difficulties and challenges. It is in line with the rules of the current shift of economic growth mode under the "new normal." In addition, the 7.4 percent growth rate is not low in an international sense. It is a growth speed. Behind it, out nation's economic aggregate reached 63.6 trillion yuan. The increment totaling US$800 billion, measured at current prices, is not a small figure. Therefore, the 7.4 percent remains within the reasonable range and fulfills the annual economic growth target. At the same time, the CPI growth rate reached 2 percent, relatively slow. The general public enjoyed low prices. Employment was stable in general. The purpose of keeping a steady growth rate is to stabilize employment and people's wellbeing. According to the figures released by the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security, the number of new entrants to the labor force in China's urban area was 13.22 million last year, beating the 10-million target.

I have mentioned moments ago that the newly added jobs in China's urban urea totaled 10.7 million last year, according to the figures released by the National Bureau of Statistics. We also had a surveyed unemployment rate of last year, which was around 5.1% last year. The economic growth rate reaching 7.4 percent, the urban newly added employment population was 13.22 million, the surveyed unemployment rate remained stable around 5.1 percent and CPI increased 2 percent. These four indexes demonstrate that China's economy is still within reasonable range.

How should we evaluate the economic performance in 2014? First, the overall situation was stable as we have seen from the above-mentioned figures. Second, the structure became optimized. From the perspective of industrial structure, the ratio of services increased continuously, which means that China's economic focus is shifting from the industrial sector to services at a quicker pace. The volume of the added value of the tertiary industry increased by 8.1 percent in 2014, higher than 7.3 percent for primary indsutry and 4.1 percent for secondary indsutry. The ratio of services amounted to 48.2 percent in 2014 and it is also an important index for evaluating China's economy.

In terms of the structure of the driving forces of the economy, traditional industries, heavy industries and raw material commodities encountered many difficulties in 2014. At the same time, the new products, new industries, new business types and modes featuring mobile Internet kept burgeoning and flourishing. China's economy is clearly shifting towards the middle and high end. Let me give you some figures.

First, the high-tech industries increased by 12.3 percent, 4 percentages higher than the growth in added value of the industrial enterprises above designated size, whith its ratio reaching 10.6%, 0.7 percentages higher than 2013. The equipment manufacturing industries grew by 10.5 percent, 2.2 percentages higher than the growth rate of industries above designate size; its ratio increased by 1.2 percentages. Those are the new driving force of the industrial sector.

Second, newly emerging business types related to the Internet and e-commerce developed rapidly. The online retail volume across the nation increased by 49.7 percent and the business volume of express delivery increased by 51.9 percent last year. Peer-to-peer lending continued to surge and telecommunication and information consumption also increased a lot. Although traditional industries suffered setbacks last year in China, new products, trades, industries, business types and modes have quickly and the new driving force is burgeoning. That's where our hopes are pinned upon.

Third, the urbanization rate kept growing steadily. Now there are 750 million people living in urban areas. This is a remarkable breakthrough and an impressive transformation in China's history , though it came about over a long period rather than one year.

Among the three structures of demand, the share of consumption is on the rise; the regional development structure is becoming optimized and the income structure is also improving. So we need to note that the growth rate of 7.4 percent is within reasonable range. What's more, China's economy has experienced profound changes, which can demonstrate future trends.

Next, the quality of economic performance has been improved. China's economy has entered the "new normal." We need to adapt to it and form a correct understanding about it. The important point is that we need to lay more emphasis on the quality and efficiency of economic development while maintaining a steady growth rate.

The quality of China's economy is improving. First, its annual labor productivity improved last year. Per capita labor productivity reached 72,313 yuan, up 7 percent compared to the figure of 2013. The concept is derived from the GDP divided by the number of employed persons. Secondly, the energy consumption of per unit GDP decreased by 4.8 percent. Why is this so remarkable? The service industry is growing and the new emerging, high-tech industries with low energy consumption have developed rapidly. In contrast, the growth of heavy industries with high energy consumption slowed down.

Fourth, the people's wellbeing has been improved. What is development for? Essentially, it is to increase people's incomes. In 2014, the per capita disposable income in the country reached 20,167 yuan, up 10.1 percent. Adjusted for inflation, the actual growth rate was 8 percent. The per capita disposable income of urban residents increased by 6.8 percent and that of rural residents grew by 9.2 percent. During the first 11 months, the fiscal revenue grew by 8.3 percent and the profit of industrial enterprises above designated size increased by 5.3 percent. The operating revenue of services was up 9.1 percent. All the figures can be used to make comparison. The most part of the improvement of people's wellbeing is employment, which is the fundamentals of the people's livelihood and the main source of people's incomes.

All in all, 2014 was not easy. Faced with many difficulties, we have made great progress in maintaining steady economic growth, optimizing economic structure, improving quality and the people's livelihood. Thank you.

Financial Times:

I have two questions for you. The first question is: could you confirm that unemployment rate you just mentioned from China's official statistics by the end of 2014 is 5.1 percent? May I ask if this is the correct figure? My second question is: the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank previously said that if the aggregate is calculated by purchasing power parity (PPP), China is already the biggest economy in the world, as its aggregate economic volume has surpassed that of the United States. Can you tell us what impact this will have? Thank you.

Ma Jiantang:

Thank you. The unemployment rate from the urban survey by the National Bureau of Statistics has not yet been officially released. Only the data from the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security about the urban registered unemployment rate has been released. The yearly unemployment rate from urban survey of the National Bureau of Statistics is at around 5.1 percent. Please ask Mr. Sheng Laiyun to double check the figure for you, that will be the right number.

Regarding the second question, the United Nations has entrusted the World Bank to carry out the new round of comparison work on purchasing power parity since 2011. China's National Bureau of Statistics also participated in this work. In the past year and in recent days, some scholars and members of the press believe that according to the results from the new round of PPP comparison in 2011, China's GDP has surpassed the U.S. if measured according to PPP. The National Bureau of Statistics doesn't agree with this saying. Because different countries use different currencies, the PPP comparison is very meaningful. What is PPP? Simply put, when you buy a basket of products and services, the money you spend on them is worth the same amount. You may spend either US$100, 600 RMB, or 10,000 Japanese yen on them. The PPP is the proportion of those three currrencies with equal values. But what is the difficult part? The hard part is the complex products in a basket are not always the same. In our basket, the food we consume may mainly be steamed bread and rice, but in Europe, it may be bread. The commodities in the basket cannot be exactly the same. So research on PPP itself is very valuable, the approach is still has nature in exploring and research domain. This is the first thing.

The second thing is that this is the result of this round of research on various countries' PPP. We think of it just as a research result, and we must be careful about applying it.

Third, for various reasons, we think this round of PPP research may underestimate China's price level, and overestimate China's total GDP, so we don't recognize this data. We have recognized that even though China has a population of 1.3 billion, and Chinese people are working hard and are being innovative in building a stronger country under the leadership of the Communist Party of China, and our GDP total volume is still expanding, per-capita GDP is still very low. China's gross domestic product per capita still sits at around the 90th position in the world chart, and we are still a developing country. According to the relevant standards from the World Bank, I'm afraid that we still have 200 million people living in poverty. We know about China's national condition very well. On the one hand, we see that our country is continuing to develop and the total volume is increasing, but on the other hand, we also see that per-capita GDP is comparatively low. And there are lots of difficulties and problems. We still need to do more things for ourselves, and are completely devoted to developing scientifically and, with undivided attention, trying hard to ensure that development is inclusive. This is the most important. Thank you.

Phoenix Television:

Commissioner Ma, would you please predict China's economic trends in 2015? As seen from the quarterly GDP, the Chinese economy has been on a downward trend since 2014. What do you think the economy is likely to be like this year? We have also heard a lot of people talking about "dropping GDP" [paying less attention to GDP], but if one were to look at many of these major figures without hearing your interpretation, we would assume that the economy was indeed very bad in 2014. Will this situation have an impact on the future? Will there be any new statistical methods to reflect the Chinese economy this year, especially the achievements in structural transformation? Thank you.

Ma Jiantang:

The major work of the National Bureau of Statistics is to look at the past accurately instead of predicting the future. But since you raised the question, I might as well say something here.

When predicting the economy's outlook in 2015, the most important thing is to clarify what kind of domestic and international environment we face. This environment has two sides. On the one hand, the economic environment in 2015 is rather complicated and challenging. Some advanced economies in the international community are recovering at a faster pace while some major economies are experiencing rather difficult and tepid recoveries. Monetary policies in advanced economies differ from one another. Additionally, due to the volatile international geopolitics and the diving prices of crude oil and other commodities, the international economic environment in 2015 is not that promising – it is quite complicated and even daunting. In China, due to the influence of the "three phases," (the three phases are the changes in growth rate, the brunt of structural adjustment and the impact of the stimulus package) and various continuing conflicts, the economy still faces much downward pressure. We have to be aware of these difficulties and prepare for them. More importantly, we should also recognize that there are still many favorable conditions for the Chinese economy to maintain a stable and rapid development or medium to high growth rate. There is still great potential and room for development. These conditions are as follows:

First, there is the momentum provided by the new "four modernizations," namely industrialization, informatization, new urbanization and agricultural modernization. These are the fundamental factors that form a solid basis for the steady development of the Chinese economy in 2015. We must bear this in mind when predicting economic trends since these are the core of economic movement. I'll just cite two examples. First, new urbanization. We will address three "100 million people" issues in the 13th Five-Year Plan: improving the rights as urban residents for the 100 million people who are currently living in cities, moving 100 million people in central and western China from villages to nearby towns, and renovating the villages within cities that are home to 100 million people. Urbanization involves tens of thousands of people coming to cities and towns, which improves the efficiency of resource allocation and promotes economic growth. Urbanization also creates huge demands. Citizens living in cities have more needs than they have when they live in villages. Urbanization will create huge demand for housing, medical treatment, education and health care. Urbanization is therefore an important force in increasing both supply and demand.

Another example is informatization. Information technology, mobile Internet, big data, and the Internet of things have a huge impact on production and people's lives, and they demonstrate tremendous potential. The Internet and mobile Internet have changed China's business models profoundly and have brought forth the rapid growth of e-commerce. They are also changing China's finance model, and new types of finance are also rapidly developing. Many other sectors are also influenced by informatization. The tremendous potential in this area will provide huge momentum to the Chinese economy.

Second, the lasting enthusiasm for starting one's own business and for innovation -- which is brought by reform and opening-up -- is an enduring force behind the steady development of the Chinese economy. Reform and opening-up has been a crucial move in the course of China's economic development, and it is also the key to China's ever-rising status and ever-expanding economy, as well as to the momentum needed for steady economic development during the 13th Five Year Plan and beyond. Streamlining administration, delegating power to the lower levels, providing more market access, and reducing red tape will mobilize the enthusiasm of China's 900-million-strong labor force and the millions of people working in science and technology. Starting one's own business and innovating will employ people and require capital. Since the reform of the business registration system in 2014, the number of players in the market increased by 10.05 million from March to November.

The year 2014 is the first year of China's [new round of] reform, and opening-up will continue this year. Reform will break the fetters and barriers to starting one's own business and innovation, activating the enthusiasm of 1.3 billion Chinese and the 900 million people in its labor force. This is where the hope of the Chinese economy lies.

Third, the macro adjustments carried out by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the State Council are key to maintaining steady economic development. The new "four modernizations" form the basis for this development, reform and opening-up provide its momentum and scientific macro adjustment forms its keystone. The economy is bound to experience fluctuations that need to be handled by macro adjustment. In addition to enacting proactive fiscal policy and prudent monetary policy, the Central Committee of the CPC and the State Council also enhanced control over the economic growth range and targeted adjustment, carried out appropriate fine-tuning. These actions were important to steady economic development in 2014 and will be an important factor in steady and rapid growth in 2015. In summary, we have to be aware that the Chinese economy will face a daunting domestic and international environment in 2015, but we also have to recognize that the Chinese economy has the potential and conditions to maintain a medium-high growth rate and become highly advanced. We have the solid basis, everlasting momentum and continuous innovation of macro adjustment. The Chinese economy will keep a steady, rapid and medium-high growth rate in 2015. As for the economic growth goal, we shall await the National People's Congress and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference this year.

The second question you raised is quite good. As the Chinese economy enters the "new normal," it is a very important task for China's statistics bureau to understand and adapt to the "new normal" and channel our current efforts toward transformation and upgrading.

We recently held a national statistics conference and decided on the following points to channel efforts to transform and upgrade the economy: We must reflect the entire economy more accurately; demonstrate the improvement of China's economic structure more comprehensively; and reflect the improvement of China's economic quality in a more timely manner. We should make greater efforts to reflect and analyze the structure and quality of the Chinese economy rather than the overall economic gross and growth rate. This is what we have in mind about the "new normal" and what we are trying to do at present. Indexes for assessing structure and quality have already been added to our analysis report and some statistics. Of course, we need to make more efforts, and we welcome joint efforts from the media. Thank you.

China National Radio:

We have noticed a slowdown in the growth of fixed asset investments and in the growth of investment in the real estate market. Will this inflict some pressure on the macro economy? Also, how would you comment on some analysts' assertion that the information industry will become an alternative industry this year or in the near future, and what are your predictions for this year's development of the information industry? Thank you.

Ma Jiantang:

A remarkable downward pressure on China's economy will continue throughout this year, as it did in 2014. First of all, such pressure existed in demand. As China is still a developing country where many industries need upgrading, per-capita infrastructure levels are not very high. Hence, for a prolonged period several years ago, fixed asset investment kept growing at a fast pace, say, above 20 percent.

But recently, especially in the last year, fixed asset investment growth has indeed been dropping. The nominal growth rate of fixed-asset investment was only 15.7 percent, a result of the cooling down of the real estate market and relatively excessive overcapacity in the manufacturing sector.

The reason for this slowdown first came from overcapacity in the manufacturing sector, investment in which accounts for more than 30 percent of all investment in the country. Given this overcapacity, we should limit and control simple overlapping investment. Second, we adjusted the real estate market, remarkably slowing down its investment growth rate to 10.5 percent.

But at the same time, we should notice that the slowdown in investment growth has followed a normal pattern. In what is called the "new normal" growth pattern, the optimization of the economic structure has decelerated GDP growth. This means investment should be subject to a similar deceleration as it goes through its own structural optimization. In addition, tertiary industry, including the information industry sector and the e-commerce sector, kept growing rapidly. While we were optimizing the investment structure, we were improving investment quality.

The information industry, as I mentioned just now, is one of the new sources of momentum for China's rapid economic growth. The information industry does not belong to any standard category in the national economy. It is a derivative industry that stretches into different sectors, such as consumer products, equipment, and investment. In a broad sense, the Internet industry also belongs to the information industry. These industries showed strong and rapid growth. Thank you.

Xinhua News Agency:

In the release just now, you mentioned that the next stage will target improvements in the quality and efficiency of economic growth in addition to giving greater importance to structural adjustment and the shift in growth mode. What measures will be taken to accomplish these goals? Thank you.

Ma Jiantang:

This is a big issue and an important task. Despite the fact that China's economy has expanded at a quick pace over the past few decades and that people's quality of life has been constantly improving, we still see that the quality of our economic growth leaves something to be desired. In future, especially in the13th Five-Year Plan period, we should put more energy into shifting our growth mode and adjusting our economic structure. How will we shift the growth mode and adjust the structure? We should propel structural transformation, better develop service industry and better foster our information industry.

First, enterprises form the backbone of an economy and the fabric of the market, so they are key players in shifting the growth mode. As long as millions of enterprises keep adjusting their product portfolios and applying new technologies and Internet technology, they will gain a better competitive position. The behavior of enterprises lays the foundation for the macro shift in growth mode. We should promote enterprise reform and encourage enterprises to keep innovating under market conditions.

Second, there is the strength of the market. The goals of shifting the growth mode and adjusting the economic structure were not set recently. China's socialist market economy with Chinese characteristics, the marketplace, market stimulus, market competition and the rule that "the fittest survive" inject impetus into economic growth, the shift in the growth mode and structural adjustments. We should further reduce interference, expand market access and let the market play a decisive role in resource allocation.

Third, there is the guidance of the government. If macro control policies are crucial to maintaining economic growth, industrial policies made by the government are also key to structural adjustment and to promoting the transformation and upgrading of China's economy. The government should steer industrial development through optimization and should formulate appropriate economic policies to guide enterprises to shift their modes and make adjustments. Mode here means mode of production, mode of distribution, and mode of consumption. The task of shifting modes and making adjustments is not only the responsibility of producers but also of consumers, who are guided by price. [People's concept of what constitutes] necessary goods and desired goods is guided by prices. In a nutshell, the shift in mode and adjustments to the economic structure form a key link allowing the Chinese economy to move from a middle- and low-end economy to a middle- and high-end economy. It is also an important task requiring joint efforts. I believe that as long as we follow this path, the Chinese economy will maintain its growth while continuing to streamline its structure and upgrade its model. Thank you!

According to the Central Economic Work Conference held at the end of last year, China will continue to dissolve the risks signaled by high leverage and economic bubbles while advancing measures to raise economic quality and efficiency. Can you tell us what effects these anti-risk mechanisms and measures can be seen to have had from the data released today regarding China's economic performance last year? Thank you!

Ma Jiantang:

China not only sustained its economic growth and adjusted its economic structure but also prevented possible economic risks. Scholars and financial institutions are always divided over the idea of economic risks, but it is generally recognized that economic risks have lurked in the restructuring of the real estate industry and the ballooning of local government debts in China for a certain period of time.

These risks have drawn great attention from the central government, which issued a guideline that lists "sustaining growth, stimulating reform, adjusting structure, improving livelihoods and preventing risks" as the tasks of its economic work in 2014. As a result, hazards in the two sectors have been eased by overall efforts across the country. Take the real estate industry for example. The new round of adjustment initiated in the first half of last year caused a downward trend in housing sales and prices. But the data for the fourth quarter of last year show some positive signals in the housing market because of a number of loosened marketing and financial policies that have eased restrictions on home purchases and loans. Housing prices started to drop at a slower rate in 70 large-and-medium-sized cities in December in particular. The prices in the first-tier cities stopped declining yearly. The decline in the volume and revenues of housing sales both slowed in the fourth quarter of last year, particularly in December. Sales in first-tier cities underwent a year-on-year growth in December. Shouldn't that prove that the housing market will run more smoothly without a certain number of government interventions?

In regard to the risk posed by local government debts, the central government took lots of measures to clear and calculate these debts. We need to know the exact size of the debts before taking measures to prevent risks from them. The old debts are allowed to be replaced by new ones with lower interest rates, but the most important thing is to "keep the front door open while shutting the back doors." Generally speaking, the local government debts are still under control.

All in all, great achievements were made last year not only in sustaining growth, stimulating reform, adjusting structure and improving livelihoods, but also in preventing economic risks. The caution required in the fiscal and financial sectors to prevent potential crises should be as significant as that demanded in the economic areas where efforts to rein in downward trends have been made. Ceaseless efforts should be made to prevent and control the risks threatening the sustainable economic development of China. Given such circumstances, we'll never use full stops but rather commas in our discussion of battling potential financial risks. Thank you!

Guo Weimin:

Mr. Ma has provided us with a lot of important information and explanation that will probably help us a lot. Thank you, Mr. Ma, and thank you all! That's all for today's press conference.

Ma Jiantang:

Thank you all! Have a Happy Spring Festival and I wish you all the best in the coming Year of the Goat!

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