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China s vice premier urges demand boost

SHANGHAI, August 20 – China\’s vice premier, a rising political star, has said the country has no other choice but to boost domestic demand in order to sustain growth amid global economic weakness, state media reported.

The authorities must increase household income and expand rural consumption to fuel more spending at home, the Xinhua news agency reported, citing Vice Premier Li Keqiang.

"Boosting domestic demand is essential for propping up growth," Li was quoted as saying, while visiting the north Chinese city of Tianjin.

"It is an urgent need as we tackle changes in the international economic situation as well."

Li, seen by many as a likely candidate to become premier in 2013, reaffirmed the stance of policy-makers that maintaining stable and rapid economic growth and keeping inflation in check are top economic priorities.

Economic growth in China slowed to 10.4 percent in the first half from 11.9 percent for all of 2007, raising concerns that weakened export growth could lead to an abrupt economic slowdown.

China\’s trade surplus declined 9.6 percent in the first seven months of this year from the same period in 2007.

Keeping up robust growth is seen as a vital policy objective in Beijing. The government is eager to create enough jobs to keep unemployment down and prevent social unrest.

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