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Last Updated: Friday, 17 October, 2003, 09:26 GMT 10:26 UK
China's growth races ahead
Chinese workers
China's economy continues to boom
China's annual growth rate has topped 9% - fuelling concern its economy could be overheating.

"It's growing almost too fast," Hong Kong businessman and broker Howard Gorges told BBC World Business Report.

The figures - from the State Statistical Bureau - were at the high end of analysts' expectations.

And are in stark contrast to growth rates in the rest of the industrialised world, which are between zero and 3%.

The figures are likely to lead to renewed pressure from the United States on Beijing to allow its currency to rise, to reflect its economic strength and make US manufacturers more competitive.

Faster growth

US officials are expected to press the issue when President George W Bush visits Asia over the coming week.

Government officials are quite worried about overinvestment in specific industries
Yiping Huang, economist, Citigroup
China's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) went up by 9.1% in the 12 months to the end of September, the figures showed.

That compares with a 6.1% increase in the year to June.

Growth in the first nine months of the year was up 8.5% on a year earlier.

Citigroup economist Yiping Huang said he expected growth in the fourth quarter of the year to accelerate further.

"Depending on whether more policy measures are taken trying to cool down the economy, I think it could go to around 9.5%."

Economic problems

Statistics bureau spokesman Qiu Xiaohua agreed the frenetic pace would probably be sustained for all of 2003.

But he denied China's economy was in danger of overheating, arguing that while investment growth was high, inflation was mild and consumer demand was lukewarm.

He also warned about growing economic problems such as rapid credit growth, mounting unemployment, energy shortages and rising stockpiles of goods.

"Since there are many complicated factors in the economy we cannot use simple terms like 'hot' or 'not hot'," Mr Qiu said.

Cooling measures

The Chinese authorities have attempted to prevent overheating in some sectors, curbing lending, restricting the buying and building of luxury property.

They have also said they will ease back on infrastructure spending.

"Government officials are quite worried about overinvestment in specific industries," Mr Huang said.

"I'm talking about overinvestment in property, iron and steel, in automobiles and so on."

Factory boom

But figures released earlier this week showed little sign the cooling measures were taking effect.

China's September factory output surged 16.3% from a year earlier.

The boom was driven by industries such as automobiles, metals, computers and machinery.

The broad money supply was up 20.7% at the end of September, driven in part by heated lending to property development and other industries.

Hong Kong businessman and broker Howard Gorges
"It's growing almost too fast."

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