BEIJING, March 7 (UPI) -- China's economy will sustain a durable development, the country's chief economic planner predicted as he praised the 7.8 percent growth last year.
Zhang Ping, head of the National Development and Reform Commission, told reporters last year's 7.8 percent gross domestic product growth should be highly appraised as it exceeded the 7.5 percent target set by the government at the start of the year. However, the 2012 growth was far less than the 9.3 percent achieved in 2011.
"China currently remains in an important period of strategic opportunities ... and I am sure the economy will sustain a durable and healthy development," Zhang said, Xinhua News Agency reported.
He said the 2012 growth also was the highest among major economies, and came despite the global financial crisis that negatively affected the economy.
Zhang said China has increased the quality and efficiency of its economy while maintaining high growth, keeping inflation stable and raising people's income level.
He said China's consumer prices rose 2.6 percent in 2012, far below the 4-percent target set by the government. Average income of residents in rural areas rose 10.7 percent in 2012, and 9.6 percent in cities and townships.
Zhang, however, noted China still faced challenges in developing its economy, which must be faced and "overcome through hard work."
China currently is holding it annual parliament session. At its inauguration Monday, outgoing Premier Wen Jiabao said the economic growth target for 2013 would remain at 7.5 percent, unchanged from the 2012 target, while the inflation target for 2013 would be kept at 3.5 percent.
Wen also promised to create more than 9 million new urban jobs and keep urban jobless rate at or below 4.6 percent.