April 1, 2014 / 1:51 PM / 4 years ago

China's leader urges faster construction of key projects

BEIJING, April 1 (Reuters) - China’s Vice Premier Zhang Gaoli called for faster construction of certain important projects on Tuesday, in remarks that may feed speculation that China will increase state spending in coming months to bolster its stuttering economy.

Zhang was also quoted as saying on the government’s website that China must boost domestic consumption, speed up construction of key projects, expand private investment and stabilise trade growth.

He did not name any particular construction projects or say whether the authorities would fast-forward new projects or focus on those already approved.

China’s economy has had a surprisingly soft start to the year, rattling investors who had expected a stable performance and who now fear China may drag on global growth. Two surveys on Tuesday showed China’s manufacturing sector remained weak in March.

Zhang, who is touring three northern Chinese cities, described China’s economy as “stable” but said the country has to pay close attention to the risks to growth.

He called for public confidence in the government, saying the authorities have the means to keep the economic growth within “a reasonable range”.

He also said Beijing will keep its economic policies stable - the government’s standard description for its policy direction.

Beijing said last month it is targeting economic growth of around 7.5 percent this year, but a disappointing performance since January has sown doubt over whether the target can be met. (Reporting by Koh Gui Qing; Editing by Hugh Lawson)

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