Premier Li says China's economy won't suffer hard landing

Wed Jun 18, 2014 9:23am EDT
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By William James and David Milliken

LONDON (Reuters) - Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said on Wednesday that China's economy would not suffer a hard landing and would continue to grow at a medium to high pace in the long term without strong stimulus.

Li made the comments during a speech in London's financial district on the final day of a visit which has yielded trade and investment deals worth 14 billion pounds ($23.76 billion) and strengthened Britain's bid to become the dominant centre for the Western trade in offshore yuan CNH=.

Li said he expected China's economy, the world's second-largest behind the United States, to grow at a minimum clip of 7.5 percent, confounding critics, including the International Monetary Fund (IMF), who say the country's rapid growth may eventually falter.

"There have been some discussions saying that the Chinese economy is slowing down, they are worried whether the Chinese economy will head to a hard landing. Here I will be very frank and I will also make this point very solemnly: this will not happen," Li said through a translator.

Li's comments were echoed by People's Bank of China Governor Zhou Xiaochuan. At an event later in London on cooperation in foreign exchange markets, Zhou said he was confident that steady growth and financial stability would ensure market confidence in China's currency, the yuan, officially known as the renminbi (RMB).

Speaking at the same event, British finance minister George Osborne compared the growing importance of China's currency to the emergence of the dollar as the world's reserve currency after World War Two, saying the yuan's growth would be one of the major changes in global finance over coming decades.

China is looking to Britain's financial sector to help promote the use of its currency in international trade. Britain is keen to fend off rivals such as Luxembourg, New York, Paris and Frankfurt, also vying for the offshore yuan business.

"London is the largest offshore RMB market, so the UK should really seize on this momentum to consolidate its position as one of the most important offshore RMB markets outside Asia," Li told policymakers and bankers at the currency-focused event.   Continued...

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang waves after delivering a speech at a China-Britain Business Council dinner in London June 17, 2014. REUTERS/Neil Hall