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China needs decisive measures to face crisis: Premier

Job seekers line up for a job fair in Shanghai, China. An official said about 15.3 per cent of the country's 130 million migrant workers had returned home jobless after losing work in cities due to the economic slowdown. (AP)

By Reuters

China needs to take more decisive policy measures to confront the impact of the financial crisis, Premier Wen Jiabao said in remarks published on Sunday.

China's economy has weakened sharply under the weight of the global slowdown, with exports shrinking at an accelerating pace and factories laying off millions of workers, raising concerns in Beijing over a potential increase in social unrest.

To counter the downturn – to 6.8 per cent annual growth in the fourth quarter of 2008 compared with 13 per cent in all of 2007 – the government has unveiled a CNY4 trillion (Dh2.15 trillion) stimulus package, repeatedly cut interest rates and announced support measures for a range of industries.

Wen, quoted by the official Xinhua news agency, stressed the continuing need for vigilance.

China "must have a profound understanding of the severity of the international financial crisis and uncertainties caused by it, fully gauge the difficulties ahead and be more decisive in taking policy measures", Xinhua quoted Wen as telling a group of people asked to comment on a draft government work report.

"We should strengthen confidence that the country's economic fundamentals and the optimistic trend remain unchanged. We certainly have the confidence, conditions and capabilities to overcome difficulties," Xinhua quoted Wen as saying.

He did not elaborate further on the needed policy steps.

Wen will deliver the government work report at the start of the annual session of the National People's Congress, the largely rubber-stamp parliament, on March 5.