Provincial Mayor Stays Optimistic

SHENZHEN, China -- China's economic hub of Shenzhen is reeling from the economic crisis, with tens of thousands of layoffs and plunging property prices, but the mayor said Wednesday that he remained upbeat on its full-year GDP growth.

"The financial crisis has indeed impacted the real economy and given a proportion of our businesses great pressure, but the central government has taken measures to alleviate this pressure," Shenzhen Mayor Xu Zongheng told reporters, saying that more than 50,000 workers had been laid off from 682 failed enterprises in the Shenzhen area over the past year.

Xu said Shenzhen was still on track to meet its 12 percent gross domestic product growth forecast this year and the business closures would have a limited impact.

Prior to the downturn, however, Shenzhen had averaged GDP growth of 27 percent between 1980 and 2007, Xu said in a speech.

As China nears the 30th anniversary of its watershed economic reforms, there have been growing signs of economic strain and social pressures in the region as the financial crisis deepens.

Xu did, however, sound a warning over Shenzhen's falling property market, with high-end prices having dropped about 25 percent in the past two months, making it one of China's worst-hit cities.

"The real estate market's overheated growth has directly affected the consumption demand and livelihood of regular citizens," Xu said.