China's economy grew by around 7 percent in 2015, Premier Li says

China's Premier Li Keqiang answers a question during a meeting with foreign company executives at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in China's port city Dalian, September 9, 2015.
Jason Lee | Reuters

China's economy grew by around 7 percent in 2015, with the services sector accounting for half of gross domestic product (GDP), Premier Li Keqiang said on Saturday.

The premier also said that employment had expanded more than expected and that consumption contributed nearly 60 percent of economic growth.

Li made theremarks at the opening ceremony for the China-backed Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) in Beijing.

China's fourth-quarter and full-year 2015 GDP figures are expected to be released on Jan. 19.

Analysts polled by Reuters have forecast 2015 growth cooled to 6.9 percent, down from 7.3 percent in 2014 and the slowest pace in a quarter of a century.

China does not intend to use a cheaper yuan as a way to boost exports and has the tools to keep the currency stable, the premier said, state news agency Xinhua had reported earlier Saturday.

"China has no intention of stimulating exports via competitive devaluation of currencies," the premier said at the meeting in Beijing, which marks China's previously announced official entry into the bank.

Li added that China is capable of keeping the yuan's exchange rate basically stable at an appropriate and balanced level, Xinhua reported.

After a nearly three percent devaluation in mid August 2015 which rattled markets, China's yuan has fallen over one percent so far in 2016, as the nation has struggled to contain capital outflows in the wake of a dramatic equity market collapse and weak economic data.

Despite recent declines, China has the world's largest foreign exchange reserves, and policymakers have repeatedly said they have the firepower to keep the yuan stable.

China will invest an additional $50 million in the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), President Xi Jinping said separately at the bank's opening ceremony in Beijing on Saturday.

The AIIB, which is seen as a rival to Japan-led ADB and U.S.-led World Bank, has become one of China's biggest foreign policy successes, and was set up by Beijing after it became frustrated by delayed reforms at the International Monetary Fund.

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