Nation 'at key point' in growth

Updated: 2012-01-07 07:18

By Li Jing (China Daily)

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BEIJING - Urbanization, upgrading the manufacturing sector and developing strategic industries are keys to boosting the country's domestic demand, as China is at a crucial point of stabilizing growth and improving its economic structure, Vice-Premier Li Keqiang said on Friday.

At this moment, China's economy is facing challenges from both home and abroad, Li told a meeting of engineers and scientists.

With stabilizing prices and maintaining solid growth as priorities, the country should also speed up economic restructuring, as constraints from energy, resources and the environment are getting tougher, Li said.

Urbanization is an important engine for expanding domestic demand and stimulating economic and social development.

He said the government should extend basic public services to more people and encourage qualified migrant workers to settle down in cities in an orderly manner by helping them solve problems related to education, medical service and housing.

Upgrading traditional industries through technological innovation could expand China's domestic demand, said Li, highlighting advanced manufacturing, emerging strategic industries and a modern service sector as important pillars for future economic growth.

In the face of increasing energy constraints, China needs a major breakthrough in mining and exploration, Li said.

Meanwhile, energy conservation and emission reduction should become a long-term task for China, while the concept of developing a circular economy should be carried out in all walks of life.

Protecting the environment is essential in optimizing China's economy, Li added. "The outcome of economic restructuring should be a clean and highly efficient industrial system. And economic growth should also guarantee enough funding to tackle water, air and soil pollution," he said.

Li also urged the government to strengthen air pollution control and gradually implement stricter standards to measure pollutants, including hazardous particles less than 2.5 microns, or PM 2.5, in cities across the country.

The tiny particles are considered extremely hazardous to health as they go deeper into the lungs than the larger particles that exist in the air.

The Ministry of Environmental Protection has set a national deadline of 2016 to factor PM 2.5 into national air quality standards, but it has encouraged major cities to measure and report PM 2.5 readings ahead of schedule.

Beijing's environmental protection bureau said it will start to post hourly online readings for PM 2.5 before the Chinese New Year, which begins later this month. The city already has six monitoring stations measuring PM 2.5 and will add more before the end of the year.

A slew of other cities, including Shanghai, Chongqing, and Guangzhou, capital of South China's Guangdong province, have announced similar plans.