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China s Wen tries to ease concerns over economy

BOAO, April 18 – China\’s Premier Wen Jiabao sought to ease concerns at an economics forum on Saturday that his nation\’s economy was faring "better than expected" despite falling exports and bleak employment prospects.

"China\’s stimulus package has already shown results, the economy has seen positive changes, and the situation is better than expected," Wen said at the opening of the Boao Forum, a summit held each year on Hainan island to promote regional economic integration.

Wen told over 1,600 delegates that progress had been made in three key economic indicators.

"Investment growth has accelerated, consumption has increased quite rapidly and domestic demand continues to rise," Wen said in his speech, broadcast live on China\’s state television.

His comments came two days after the Asian giant posted growth of 6.1 percent in the first quarter of the year, the slowest in at least a decade.

However, Wen warned that there were still many challenges ahead and that "China\’s economic and social devlopment faced big difficulties."

"The main ones are: external demand continues to shrink, there has been a large drop in exports… there is overcapacity in some industries, the pick-up in industries is sluggish, economic efficiency continues to drop."

Wen added that fiscal revenue was slowing and that the employment situation was still serious.

But despite this, some analysts have agreed that a four-trillion-yuan (580-billion-dollar) stimulus package launched in November by the government appears to have shown some effects.

Wen pointed to a 28.6 percent rise in urban fixed asset investments in the first quarter as an example of this.

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