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China can't rely on easy credit policy for growth - Premier.

China cannot rely on loose credit to lift its economy, Premier Li Keqiang said, adding that it is difficult for the country to avoid short-term fluctuations in growth.

Speaking at a forum in China's northern city of Tianjin, Li obliquely referred to a surprising slump in China's credit supply in July by saying that the data remained within a "reasonable range" despite its recent volatility.

A broad measure of liquidity in China's economy, also known as total social financing, or TSF, unexpectedly tumbled to a six-year low in July, alarming global investors already worried about the country's cloudy growth outlook.

Li assured the audience that China's economy could grow by around 7.5 percent this year as targeted by the government, but reiterated Beijing's view that a healthy job market was more important than delivering a certain level of economic growth.

"There is already a lot of money in the pool. We cannot rely again on increasing the supply of currency to stimulate economic growth," Li said.

"As of the end of August, the broad M2 money supply was only up 12.6 percent compared with a year earlier," he said. Xinhua had reported Li as saying M2 money supply grew 12.8 percent in the period. It was not immediately clear which figure was right.

A 12.6 percent rise would be the weakest pace in five months. China is set to release its credit data for August between Sept 10 and 15.

Like policymakers around the world, China has fallen back on looser credit supply in recent years to bolster its economy.

In the aftermath of the 2008/09 global financial crisis, China's M2 money supply rose an average 24 percent every month in 2009 and 2010.

The prolific supply of cash drew criticism from the International Monetary Fund, which said financial risks in China had grown to the point where, unless the economy stumbled badly, it was more crucial to contain the dangers than to stoke growth. As such, it urged China against further loosening its policies.

Addressing such critiques indirectly, Li said China had kept its monetary policy stable and would continue to make only "targeted adjustments".

"Since last year, China has implemented stable and prudent monetary policy," Li said. "We have not relied on strong stimulus to push economic development along."

Instead, he said authorities had counted on enacting reforms to drive the world's second-biggest economy and would continue to pursue currency and interest rate reforms.

Always prudent

Chinese policymakers have consistently described China's policy as being "prudent" in recent years even when they are hiking or lowering interest rates.

Since April, authorities have publicly loosened policy in modest steps by accelerating some infrastructure works, injecting cash into banks to increase lending and relaxing controls in the housing market to boost property sales.

The reserve requirement ratio (RRR), or the amount of deposits that banks have to set aside as reserves, was also lowered for select unnamed banks.

China's economy has had a bumpy ride this year. Growth rebounded slightly in the second quarter from an 18-month low thanks to a stream of government stimulus measures, but hopes that the recovery would gain traction were dashed in July when data showed activity was fizzling again.

Indeed, data on Monday showed China's import growth unexpectedly fell for the second consecutive month in August, posting its worst performance in over a year.

That fuelled speculation about whether authorities should loosen policy further to revive softening domestic demand that is compounded by a cooldown in the housing market.

Few analysts believe China will cut interest rates this year, though more are calling for the central bank to cut the RRR nationwide.

The central bank usually cuts the RRR by 50 basis points, and the last time it lowered the ratio was in May 2012, to 20 percent for large banks.

Taking questions from foreign business executives, Li was also asked about China's antitrust investigations and whether they were unduly focused on foreign companies.

Li defended the probes by saying that they were conducted "legally, transparently and fairly" and that to his knowledge foreign firms only constituted 10 percent of China's antitrust probes.
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Publication:Cambodian Business Review
Geographic Code:9CHIN
Date:Oct 31, 2014
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