China's Premier Li signals caution over policy easing
BEIJING, July 16 (Reuters) - Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said on Tuesday the government should not rush into changing policy as long as economic growth stays within the official comfort zone, although it needs to be vigilant about a sharper slowdown.
The government is able to achieve key economic tasks for this year, state television quoted Li as saying, reinforcing the official view that a 7.5 percent annual economic growth target remains achievable.
China's new leaders have shown a greater tolerance for slower growth, putting more emphasis on long-term reforms to put the economy on a more sustainable footing.
Li reiterated that the government would safeguard the "lower limits" for economic growth and employment while keeping a lid on inflation.
The government should focus on market-based reforms to revitalise the economy as long as growth stays within a "reasonable range", Li said without elaborating.
Many analysts believe the government will step in to support the economy if year-on-year growth slips in a quarter to 7 percent.
"Neither should we change policy orientation due to temporary economic fluctuations, which may affect the hard-won restructuring opportunity, nor should we lack vigilance and preparations when the economy might slide below the reasonable range," Li was quoted as saying.
China's annual gross domestic product growth slowed to 7.5 percent in the second quarter from 7.7 percent in the previous quarter - putting pressure on Beijing to quicken reforms rather than slow them to take up the economic slack.
Analysts have steadily cut their forecasts this year for China's growth as data consistently comes in weaker than expected and government officials have talked of slowing growth. They mostly forecast 2013 growth between 7 and 7.5 percent.
(Reporting by Kevin Yao; Editing by Robert Birsel)