China pledges to rebalance economy

China will ensure steady and robust growth by boosting domestic demand and rebalancing its economy to help counter the obstacles hindering a global recovery, President Hu Jintao has pledged to Asia-Pacific leaders gathered for a regional summit.

Asia remains the biggest driver of global growth, despite a decline in Chinese growth to a three-year low of 7.6% in the second quarter, and Beijing is struggling to create enough jobs and cope with the adverse impact of the debt crisis on its own economy, Mr Hu acknowledged.

"The global economy has reached a critical juncture, and we face the arduous task of overcoming major difficulties standing in the way in order to achieve full recovery and ensure steady growth," Mr Hu told business leaders gathered on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in this Russian Far East seaport.

Revitalising trade and growth is an urgent priority for Apec, whose aim is to dismantle barriers and bottlenecks that slow trade and business while nurturing closer economic ties. Both China and host Russia pledged to do what they can to support those aims.

China's own growth has slowed as the government curbed bank lending to counter a property market bubble and soaring prices, just as the deepening debt crisis in Europe slammed demand for its exports.

"Economic growth is facing notable downward pressure," Mr Hu said. "Some small and medium-sized companies are having a hard time, and exporters are facing more difficulties."

Mr Hu, who is due to step down as China's top leader following a Communist Party congress this fall, promised to "ensure the continuity and stability" of the country's economic policies, saying: "We will boost domestic demand and maintain steady and robust growth as well as basic price stability." he said.

Russia's hosting of the Apec summit highlights a renewed focus on developing its neglected but resource-rich Far East.

President Vladimir Putin promised regional business leaders that they can count on Russia, which has long focused mainly on supplying oil and gas to Europe, to be a reliable energy supplier.

Moscow also has ambitious plans to develop its railroads, roads, seaports and airports in the resource-rich but long neglected east of the country to provide a bridge between Asia and Europe, Mr Putin said.