(China News Net update as translated by our China correspondent, Andrew van Buren). 

China Premier Wen Jiabao

Chinese premier: GDP not only growth barometer worth watching

CHINESE PREMIER Wen Jiabao said any fixation on GDP growth as a barometer of the county’s economic health is unnecessary and China would do well to also take into consideration a basket of indices to better gauge its economic performance on the world stage.

Speaking prior to the release of the United Nations-commissioned 2009 Human Development Index results (in which China jumped seven places to No.92 on the much-anticipated index that measures quality of life in 182 nations), Premier Wen said the annual survey was also a worthy indication of just how far the country’s economy and standard of living has improved over the years.

He said that he considered the various indices measuring quality of life improvements to be more deserving of attention that simply GDP growth.

The premier said that although it looked like the country might achieve its original 8% growth target this year afterall, he still preferred to take into consideration a collection of “living standard” surveys before assessing just how robust the economy was, and whether growth was benefitting as many as possible.

He also pointed to indices tracking employment rates as very important for the country’s economic planners in terms of adjusting levers on growth and money supply.

The earlier-stated goal of creating an additional nine mln jobs across the country this year was still possible.

In the first seven months, the number had reached 6.6 mln but was also being somewhat tempered by new job losses.

This was one of his top concerns as premier of China.

He also said he was always working to ensure that the quality and efficiency of economic growth continued to improve, two factors that are not immediately reflected in raw GDP figures.

“We not only want to achieve our 8% GDP growth target this year, but also want to continue restructuring the economy including consolidation in some crowded sectors and phasing out of inefficient players.

This will strengthen the overall economy and result in more ‘quality-based’, rather than simply ‘quantity-based’ growth,” he said.

Premier Wen added that more efficient use of energy resources and improved environmental standards were also very important considerations in addition to core GDP growth achievements.

China jumps to No.92 on quality of life index, Norway takes top spot

THE SCANDANAVIAN country of Norway with its 4.8 mln population topped the recent UN-sponsored Human Development Index which each year measures the quality of life in countries on an annual basis.

Meanwhile, the world’ most populous country, China, with its 1.3 bln denizens, came in at No.92.

The Middle Kingdom showed one of the biggest improvements, rising seven places in the standings.

The highly anticipated index takes into consideration a variety of factors including average life expectancy, levels of compulsory education compliance and per capita GDP.

Occupying second place on the list this year is Australia. Rounding out the top ten are Iceland, Canada, Ireland, The Netherlands, Sweden, France, Switzerland and Japan.

The United States was in position No.13, falling one spot from a year previous.

Last among the 182 countries observed in the study was the impoverished African nation of Niger.

China’s economy has grown by leaps and bounds since it opened to the world beginning under the leadership of Deng Xiaoping in the late 1970s.

After achieving or flirting with double digit GDP growth over the past decade, economic planners have been hoping to hit the magic 8% annual growth target this year – a feat that is looking increasingly likely.

This is no small accomplishment considering the ongoing global financial crisis that has wreaked havoc from Wall Street to Main Streets around the world over the past year.

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