Beijing has a message of hope. Premier Wen Jiabao said on Friday that he expects China and the world will be ‘better off’ by next year.
“We have prepared contingency plans to handle greater difficulties,’’ a confident Wen told the media. “We have prepared enough ammunition. We can launch new economic stimulus policies at any time’’.
Last year, China announced a nearly 600 billion-dollar stimulus investment in infrastructure and social reforms to boost domestic spending.
China, the world’s third-largest economy also known as the world’s factory, is battling a historic crisis of unemployed millions and falling export demand. Twenty million migrants are laid-off. About 7.1 million graduates need jobs. February exports out of China were the worst in over a decade.
But the 67-year-old geologist turned Premier is one of the few global leaders consistently speaking with confidence. “I still believe, first and foremost, we need very strong confidence,’’ Wen said.
China’s growth touched a seven-year-low of nine per cent last year and forecasters have predicted below eight per cent growth for this year. But Wen said he stood by his ‘difficult’ goal of eight per cent growth to sustain the Chinese economy in its toughest year since 2000.
“It’s just like we need a compass on a sailing vessel to know where we are heading and when we will arrive at the destination,’’ he said, adding that the goal spread confidence and hope.
But the Premier sounded less confident about the safety of Chinese investments in the US. “We lent such huge funds to the United States and of course we’re concerned about the security of our assets and, to speak truthfully, I am a little bit worried,” he said. China is the largest creditor of the US and holds the world’s largest foreign exchange reserves that touched 1.95 trillion dollars last year.