China's growth will fall to just 5pc, warns think-tank
A researcher at an influential think-tank linked to China's state cabinet has predicted economic growth there could slow to around 5pc in the next two to three years, a forecast that contrasts with rosier official estimates.
Ren Zeping, the deputy director of the macro-economic research department at the Development Research Centre, said the economy was shifting gear from high-speed growth to medium-speed expansion.
As such, he said growth in the world's second-biggest economy may slow to about 7.2pc this year and then to around 6pc in 2015, and eventually to around 5pc in the next two to three years.
The government has forecast growth of 7.5pc this year, but has said it would be comfortable with a slightly slower rate. Analysts polled by Reuters expect growth to slow to a 24-year low of 7.3pc.
Mr Ren said inadequate domestic demand had led to a steady deceleration in the economy since 2010, offsetting a recovery in world demand after the 2008/09 global financial crisis.
The Development Research Centre is one of many institutions that makes policy recommendations to Chinese leaders. Despite its high standing, its advice is not always taken on board.
Mr Ren's predictions are more dire than other forecasts from the government.
Vice Finance Minister Zhu Guangyao said earlier this month that he was confident of sustaining economic growth of between 7-8pc in the next decade.
Hurt by slowing domestic investment growth and falling exports, the economy grew an annual 7.4pc in the first quarter, its weakest rate in 18 months.