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Chinese President calls for domestic demand boost

BEIJING, November 1 – \’s President Hu Jintao has called for a boost in domestic demand to maintain the nation\’s economic growth in the face of the global financial crisis, state media reported Saturday.

Hu said that governments at all levels should "strive to expand domestic demand, especially consumer demand," as he visited farmers in the northern province of Shaanxi, the official People\’s Daily newspaper reported.

"Currently, the fundamentals of our country\’s economic development are good," he told officials accompanying him on the visit on Wednesday and Thursday, according to the report.

But he admitted that "prominent contradictions and problems" existed in \’s economy due to the crisis.

"We must maintain confidence, raise spirits, perfect our policies, strengthen our struggle," the paper quoted him as saying.

Hu\’s comments come amid mounting evidence is starting to feel the pinch from the global economic downturn.

The country\’s GDP growth slowed to nine percent in the third quarter of the year, the lowest growth figure since the second quarter of 2003, and the growth of its exports has also decreased.

The pace of expansion in exports in the first three quarters slowed down by 4.8 percentage points from last year, growing by 22.3 percent to 1.1 trillion dollars, official figures showed.

Thousands of people have been laid off in recent weeks in southern \’s export hubs as toy and other factories that have sold to the developed world have gone bust.

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Amid such a backdrop, economists and government officials have called for a boost in domestic economic growth to cushion the impact of the crisis.

Already, has cut interest rates three times since September, and some analysts are expecting a fourth rate cut before the end of the year.

Authorities have also decided to invest heavily in infrastructure, including 300 billion dollars into its rail system, as a stimulus measure.

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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