BEIJING, March 18 (Xinhua) -- China's growth momentum remains strong as fundamentals that help sustain its stable and fast development have not changed, a wide consensus reached by government officials and economists attending a development forum held Sunday in Beijing.
China currently has continued to maintain a rapid growth rate and that the economy on the whole is running steadily, Vice Premier Li Keqiang said in a speech delivered at the China Development Forum 2012.
"Meanwhile, a positive trend for the economy has not changed in the long term," Li said.
The vice premier's remarks came amid an extensive concern of whether the world's second largest economy, as well as a nation with 1.3 billion people, can still outperform other countries and lead global growth when being challenged by a lackluster external market.
Recognizing China's leadership role and adept policy skills when the recent global crisis hit, visiting chief of International Monetary Fund (IMF) Christine Lagarde said that the world's economic situation might have been more "calamitous" had it not been for the impetus that China provided to growth and stability.
Despite a week external demand, the Chinese economy still posted a strong growth of 9.2 percent for 2011, braving forecasts of a hard landing.
The nation is currently undergoing fast urbanization and industrialization, which are the two elements among the drivers for long-term and sustained growth, said Ma Jiantang, chief of the National Bureau of Statistics.
Ma said that with the increasing urbanization rate, which surpassed 50 percent last year, more people from the rural areas will migrate to towns and cities, leading to a stronger demand for consumption.
But the officials and economists are not just seeing the rosy part of the story. They have also let out resounding calls for change, of the economic growth patterns and concrete policies tailored to support sustainable growth.
As the world's largest developing economy, the country still faces the problem of imbalanced, uncoordinated and unsustainable development at home and uncertainties of a faltering global recovery.
"China is now at a critical stage on its course to transform the growth pattern, which should be addressed without delay," Li said.
Therefore, the government should work to keep steady and fast growth and stabilize consumer prices, while making breakthroughs in growth mode transformation, reform and opening up, as well as improving people's livelihood during the 12th Five-Year Plan period (2011-2015), Li said.
Li called for system and mechanism reforms, saying the government should deepen reforms on taxes, the financial sector, prices and income distribution, while seeking progress in key areas to let the market play a bigger role in resource allocation.
To speed up the transformation, the country should expand its domestic demand by unleashing potentials in the urbanization process, he said.
Ma Jiantang said that the edges of China's rich labor resources are beginning to wane as China is increasing confronted with the aging problem. Meanwhile, constraints from natural resources and the urgency for environmental protection are raising the downward pressure on growth.
In the wake of global turbulence and a pressing domestic demand for economic restructuring, China lowered its GDP growth target to 7.5 percent this year after projecting it around 8 percent for seven consecutive years,
By setting a slightly lower GDP growth rate, China hopes to achieve "higher-level, higher-quality development over a longer period of time," according to Premier Wen Jiabao at the opening of the annual parliamentary session earlier this month.
The lowered growth target signaled that the Chinese government will give more emphasis to industrial upgrading and green growth, which themselves will inject new vitality into the development of the Chinese economy, said Siemens CEO Peter Loescher.
"The growth mode transformation of the Chinese economy will release an enormous amount of demand and create a huge market... I am full of confidence in the future growth of China's economy," said Liu He, a senior researcher with the Development Research Center of the State Council.