Page last updated at 15:35 GMT, Thursday, 27 November 2008

China fears unrest amid slowdown

About 500 protesters rioted at a toy factory in southern China
Chinese authorities have already had to deal with fired workers protests

The accelerating economic slowdown in China will lead to huge unemployment and could fuel social unrest, China's top planner has said.

Zhang Ping, head of the National Development and Reform commission, said the impact of the global crisis on China's economy was deepening.

"Excessive bankruptcies and production cuts will lead to massive unemployment and stir social unrest," he said.

A state think tank said annual economic growth would slow to 8% this quarter.

The State Information Centre blamed the fall - from 9% in the third quarter - on slowing export and the property market crisis.

The 8% growth forecast for the fourth quarter is still faster than any other leading economy but the Chinese authorities have already had to deal with protests from fired workers.

About 500 workers protested over a pay dispute this week. They overturned police cars near a toy company, stormed the plant's gates and crashed computers.

Forceful measures

Mr Zhang said the economic situation will get worse.

"Some domestic economic indicators point to an accelerated slowdown [in China] in November," he said.

On Wednesday China's central bank cut the country's interest rates to 5.58% from 6.66% in order to stimulate economic growth.

This is the biggest cut in the cost of borrowing in China since October 1997, during the Asian financial crisis.

"We must adopt more forceful and effective measures... and the interest rate cut is part of the effort," said Mr Zhang.

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