China's Wen makes growth 'economic priority'

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao vowed proactive policies to make growth a bigger priority, as the world's second largest economy showed signs of weakness, state press said on Sunday.

Wen made the comments during a visit to central China's Wuhan city, Xinhua news agency said, days after a slew of bleak data for April prompted fears China's economy is cooling faster than previously thought.

"We should continue to implement a proactive fiscal policy and a prudent monetary policy, while giving more priority to maintaining growth," Wen said, reiterating standard rhetoric on managing China's economy.

"The country should properly handle the relationship between maintaining growth, adjusting economic structures and managing inflationary expectations."

Concerns over China's slowing growth have intensified after weak economic data for April was released last week. Growth in industrial production, imports, exports, fixed-asset investment and bank lending all slowed in April.

Since then, Beijing has announced a series of stimulus measures to bolster the economy, including lowering the amount of money banks are required to hold in their coffers.

The government has set a growth target of 7.5 percent for 2012, fearing anything below that level could trigger mass unemployment and cause widespread unrest in the world's second-largest economy.

Analysts had been predicting the economy would bottom out in the second quarter of 2012, before rebounding in the last six months, but the April data indicated that the slowdown may be more intense and lasting.

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