* Meeting 6.5 pct growth target won't be easy - Premier Li
* Economy faces risks, but has sufficient policy tools -
(adds quotes, background)
BEIJING, March 15 Premier Li Keqiang said on
Wednesday that forecasts of a hard landing for the world's
second largest economy should stop, though domestic and external
risks remain and meeting the target of 6.5 percent growth for
this year won't be easy.
"Almost every year I have heard a prediction of the Chinese
economy having a hard landing," Li said at his annual news
conference at the end of the annual meeting of China's
"But I believe that our economic performance in the past
several years...should suffice to put a full stop to such
prophesies of a hard landing."
China has cut its economic growth target this year to around
6.5 percent from its 2016 goal of 6.5 to 7 percent, while
pushing through reforms to tackle rising debt and guard against
"As for the projected target of GDP growth this year at
about 6.5 percent, I have read some foreign media describing it
as a move by the Chinese government for moderate downward
adjustment of GDP growth," Li said.
"I should point out that 6.5 percent growth is not low speed
and will not be easy for us to meet."
China's gross domestic product grew 6.7 percent last year,
supported by record bank loans, a speculative housing boom and
billions in government investment.
Looking ahead, the head of a government research centre said
the risk of a steep slide in China's economy has reduced, adding
that the country had moved through an "L-shaped" pattern of
slowing to now "horizontal" growth.
But China continues to pump large amounts of credit into the
economy, with bank lending this January the second highest on
record and new credit not slowing as much as expected in
Li said the economy faces risks this year, but added the
country has many policy tools to cope with them.
"We need to take very seriously the risks we are facing on
the domestic front, especially in the financial sector...We will
take prompt and targeted measures to prevent them from further
spreading," Li said.
"China's financial system is generally stable and there are
no systemic risks. We still have a good reserve of policy
options and instruments at our disposal."
(Reporting by Ryan Woo, Kevin Yao and Sue-Lin Wong; Writing by
Elias Glenn; Editing by Kim Coghill & Simon Cameron-Moore)