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Premier Wen warns economic crisis still spreading in China; says recovering will be arduous

BEIJING (AP) -- Premier Wen Jiabao warned that the impact of the global financial crisis was still spreading in China and the country faces the long and arduous task of combating its effects.

The official Xinhua News Agency quoted Wen as saying Saturday that China "must strengthen confidence in the face of the crisis and be ready to take firmer and stronger actions when necessary." He did not go into specifics.

China is one of the only major economies still growing, though it has slowed. Growth fell to a seven-year low of 6.8 percent in the final quarter of 2008 compared with the same time a year earlier.

The government announced a 4 trillion yuan ($586 billion) plan in November aimed at boosting domestic consumption to shield China from the global slowdown, which has battered Chinese exporters. But its effects are not expected to be felt for several months.

The plan calls for spurring domestic consumption by pumping money into the economy through higher spending on public works. State companies have been ordered to speed up plans to build power plants and other facilities.

Wen noted Saturday that trade-dependent coastal areas have been hit by waves of factory closures and layoffs and that the country's migrant workers have been hardest hit by the crisis.

"I want to take the opportunity to extend my gratitude to our migrant workers," Wen said, adding that the government should encourage workers who have lost their jobs to start their own businesses by offering tax incentives and training opportunities.

The government says about 20 million migrants have lost their jobs and communist leaders worry about possible unrest. (来源:英语麦当劳-英语杂志 http://www.EnglishCN.com)

On Friday the deputy chairman of China's planning agency said China is confident it can meet its growth target of 8 percent this year, though "downward pressure" from the global economic crisis is growing.

The comments were Beijing's latest effort to reassure uneasy consumers and companies and encourage them to keep spending.
 
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