BEIJING, March 6 (Xinhua) -- The hard landing of the economy will "no way" occur in China, a senior economic official said Sunday.
The economy is resilient and has a relatively strong ability to resist risks, Xu Shaoshi, the head of the National Development and Reform Commission, said on the sidelines of the annual parliamentary session.
"We are capable of keeping economic growth at rates within a reasonable range," Xu said at a press conference. "We are fully confident of our development prospects."
"China's economy will absolutely not undergo a 'hard landing'. This 'prediction' will come to nothing," said Xu.
China set the growth target at a range of 6.5 percent to 7 percent this year, and average annual growth of above 6.5 percent for the next five years.
China had seen the slowest economic expansion for a quarter of a century, of 6.9 percent, in 2015, amid its structural adjustment and a fragile global recovery.
Consumption will continue to prop up China's economic growth, Xu added.
The government aims to stimulate consumption in new emerging areas, such as green lifestyle, the official said.
He noted, however, that China will also actively boost effective investment to shore up economic growth and help industrial restructuring.
The central government's investment fund will be increased to 500 billion yuan (around 75 billion U.S. dollars) this year. Investment will focus on affordable housing, railways, technological innovation, environmental protection and poverty relief, Xu said.
China will use the investment to improve less-developed industries, readjust the economic structure and foster new growth momentum, Xu said.
A project reserve pool has been established that will guide investment over the next three years, he added.
China will not experience mass unemployment like that in the 1990s, as China cuts industrial overcapacity, said the official.
"On the whole, I'm optimistic about China's job market," he said, citing four reasons for his optimism.
First, some enterprises have already cut working hours and salaries to avoid redundancies.
Second, although China's growth speed has slowed somewhat, its economic aggregate is growing larger. One percentage point of GDP growth now translates to an additional 1.6 million jobs.
Third, the fast-growing service industry is a reliable source of job creation. In 2015, the service sector accounted for 50.5 percent of China's GDP, the first time it exceeded the 50-percent level.
Fourth, the growing zeal for innovation and entrepreneurship means more people are starting their own businesses. In 2015, 4.4 million new enterprises were registered, equal to 12,000 new ones every day.
The revitalization of the industrial sector, according to preliminary forecasts, will see a 1.8 million people laid off across the coal and steel sectors.
The central government will allocate 100 billion yuan (15.4 billion U.S. dollars) over two years to help those that lose their jobs.
To achieve this year's growth target, China should step up efforts, he said.
China must not underestimate risks this year, he said, citing a slowly-recovering world economy, dipping prices in bulk commodities and geopolitical risks.
The domestic situation, including slowing growth, dropping prices of industrial goods, and declining corporate profits and fiscal revenue, is reason for high alert, Xu said.
The government has many viable policy measures at its disposal, Xu said.
Xu also talked about the major progress in the implementation of the Belt and Road Initiative last year.
The Belt and Road, proposed by President Xi Jinping in 2013, refers to the Silk Road Economic Belt that links China with Europe through central and western Asia, and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road connecting China with southeast Asia, Africa and Europe. In March last year, Chinese authorities published an action plan specifying its framework and priorities.
China signed memorandums on the Belt and Road with more than 30 countries last year, and saw a boom in trade and investment, said Xu, citing industrial contracts worth 23 billion U.S. dollars between China and Kazakhstan, and deals worth over 30 billion dollars regarding the China-Pakistan economic corridor.
This year, China will pursue the implementation of arrangements with these countries and push the construction of international economic corridors to advance industrial and railway construction with financial support, he added. Enditem