10 November 2014 – The risks facing China’s economy are not “scary”, President Xi Jinping has told global business leaders.
In a speech to chief executives ahead of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (Apec) summit he sought to dispel concerns about the economy.
“There are indeed risks (to growth), but it’s not so scary,” he said.
China also announced a deepening of its energy ties with Russia, with the countries agreeing a major new gas pipeline linking the two nations.
Apec is expected to be the venue to announce several international deals among Asia-Pacific nations. On Sunday, Mr Xi pledged $40bn to improve trade links with other nations in the region.
The world’s second largest economy has had a tough year, held back by a contraction in the property market, slower consumer demand, and unsteady exports.
But Mr Xi pointed out that even if China’s economy were to grow by 7%, that would still rank it at the forefront of the world’s economies.
He said the economy remained “stable”.
Official figures released on Saturday showed that growth in exports and imports slowed in October. Annual growth slowed to 7.3% in the third quarter of 2014, the weakest since the height of the global financial crisis.
In a bid to bolster growth, the government has accelerated spending on infrastructure projects, while the central bank has injected money into bank to improve credit supply and cut mortgage rates for some homebuyers.
Mr Xi said China’s economic and social reforms would take time to have an impact, but were irreversible.
“These reforms are gradually being put into effect project by project. Once the bow is drawn, the arrow cannot be put back in the quiver; we will resolutely deepen reform,” he said.
The two-day Apec summit opens on Monday. After a meeting on Sunday with several Asian leaders, Mr Xi promised $40bn to help countries to improve infrastructure and trade.
“Efforts by a single or several countries are far from adequate,” said Mr Xi. “Only by building extensive partnerships where all will think and work in unison can we expect to achieve positive results.”
Last month, China and 20 other Asian governments launched a $50bn bank to finance infrastructure in the region, despite US objections that it was an unneeded duplication of work by the World Bank.
On Sunday, Mr Xi and President Vladimir Putin strengthened their energy links when the two signed a memorandum of understanding on the so-called “western gas route” from Russia to China.
Russia has been shifting its focus to Asian markets after Western sanctions over the Ukraine crisis targeted a number of Russian banks and energy companies by limiting their access to funding.
In May, Russia’s state-controlled gas giant Gazprom agreed to ship 38bn cubic metres of gas to China in a deal worth $400bn, from eastern Siberia.
Under Sunday’s agreement, the two countries said they would explore plans to transport gas via fields in western Siberia.
As part of the deal, China National Oil and Gas Exploration and Development is taking a 10% in Vancorneft, part of another Russian energy giant, Rosneft.