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China's economic growth rate slows


Sales promoters talk to visitors at a housing fair in Nanjing (AP)

Sales promoters talk to visitors at a housing fair in Nanjing (AP)

Sales promoters talk to visitors at a housing fair in Nanjing (AP)

China's rapid economic growth eased in the latest quarter to a still-robust 9.1% amid government efforts to prevent overheating.

Growth of the world's second-largest economy in the three months ending in September was down from the previous quarter's 9.5% and the lowest level in two years, data showed.

The government said that was in line with plans to steer growth that hit 10.3% last year to a more sustainable level and cool politically dangerous inflation.

The moderation comes amid Europe's debt crisis and high US unemployment and might reduce China's contribution to global growth, though analysts say its expansion cannot shore up a slumping world economy on its own.

"This means China itself is still growing well and will continue to generate demand for commodities and exports," said Darius Kowalczyk, senior economist for Credit Agricole CIB in Hong Kong. Still, he said: "I don't think they are going to save the world."

Beijing has repeatedly hiked interest rates and imposed curbs on construction and other investment to prevent runaway growth and cool inflation that surged to a 37-month high of 6.5% in July.

It has promised to ease some bank lending curbs to help struggling small businesses but analysts expect it to maintain most of its controls.

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A government spokesman said the latest data, which also showed strong retail sales and factory production, was evidence Beijing's strategy was working and the economy was on the right track.

"There is quite a strong possibility for China's economy to maintain steady and relatively fast growth," said a spokesman for the National Statistics Bureau, Sheng Laiyun, at a news conference.

Mr Sheng warned China faces "rising risks" due to weakness in key US and European export markets. But he said it is unlikely to suffer a "double dip", or relapse into an economic slump.

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