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Billionaire Wang Jianlin says drop growth targets

Chinese billionaire Wang Jianlin, one of the country’s best-known businessmen, has said China needs to drop unrealistic official economic growth targets.

Photo of the Remarkables mountain range in Queenstown, New Zealand.

The Chinese government is targeting growth of around 7% this year.

But Mr Wang said his country needed “to drop the fantasy of keeping a high growth rate of 7% or 8%”.

His comments come amid fears of a slowdown in the Chinese economy that have sent global stockmarkets tumbling.

Despite a rally on Thursday, the main Shanghai index of leading shares is down more than 20% in the past two weeks.

This has triggered losses in US shares, where the Dow Jones index is down 7%, and in Europe, where leading indexes are down a similar amount.

Investors are concerned that China will not be able to maintain its strong economic growth, with reduced demand for global commodities and goods having a knock-on effect on the global economy.

‘Transformation’

But Mr Wang said the focus for China should be “sustainable and safe” growth, rather than setting targets that are, in the longer-term, unrealistic. He said the country should accept a growth rate of “6% or even 5%”.

“China’s economy needs to transform from relying on investment and exports to [relying more on] consumption. That’s a painful process,” he said.

“If the transformation doesn’t happen now, it would be even more painful in the future.”

China's Bai Faquan competing in a triathlon

Mr Wang was speaking after announcing that his company, Dalian Wanda Group, had agreed a deal to buy World Triathlon Corporation (WTC) for 570.08€m (574.24€m).

WTC organises Ironman contests, and Mr Wang believes that as the Chinese become more wealthy, triathlon will become more popular.

“As China enters the ranks of middle income countries, people are paying increasing attention to physical fitness and spiritual fulfilment, and triathlon’s unique charm and challenge is set to attract a large number of people,” his company said.

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