China estimates 11.4-per cent growth in 2007; higher inflation

( dpa ) - China on Thursday said it estimated gross domestic product grew by 11.4 per cent last year, the highest rate since 1994, amid rising inflation and apparent difficulties for the government in controlling investment.

The total value of China's GDP in 2007 was estimated at 24.66 trillion yuan (3.43 trillion dollars), following growth of 11.1 per cent in 2006, Xie Fuzhan, head of the National Bureau of Statistics, told reporters.

Xie said the government expected to maintain "steady" growth this year by trying to remedy "structural problems" and taking into account of the possible effects of the US economy.

"We will keep a close watch on developments in the US economy, on the one hand," he said.

"On the other hand, we will strive to address institutional and structural problems in the Chinese economy."

The risk of overheating remained and inflationary pressure was still growing, Xie said.

The consumer price index rose by 4.8 per cent last year, its highest annual increase since 1997, he said.

Driven by soaring prices of meat, grain and other foodstuff, the index increased by 6.5 per cent year-on-year in December, after hitting a record 6.9 per cent in November.

The government in November set its primary task for this year as preventing overheating and avoiding a "shift from structural price rises to evident inflation."

It plans to spend more on social security, health care, education, housing and allowances for people on low incomes, state media said.

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