"I think China's growth rate will be about 8% this year," Yi Gang said during a debate at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. He said consumer price inflation could reach 3% or slightly higher.
The world's second-biggest economy grew by 7.8% last year, well below the average 10% growth seen in the past three decades but better than the government's own target of 7.5% and above analyst expectations.
The annual figure was boosted by a recovery in industrial production and exports in the fourth quarter, which grew 7.9%, prompting economists to forecast a slow but steady recovery in 2013
The acceleration in the last three months of 2012 followed seven quarters of slowing growth as China felt the impact of weak activity in the United States and Europe, as well as its own efforts to control a real estate boom and contain inflation.
China's manufacturing sector showed more signs of improvement this month, with a preliminary reading of purchasing managers' sentiment rising to its highest level in two years.
Inflation rose to 2.5% in December, as a spurt of extremely cold weather drove food prices higher. That compared with 2% in November, but still represents tame inflation -- the government aims to keep annual inflation below 4%.
China is trying to rebalance its economy, placing greater emphasis on consumption. Yi said domestic demand was playing an ever more important role in the economy as growth in incomes outpaced GDP growth.
"Consumption is very robust," he said.
China would continue to aim for a reduction in its current account surplus as a percentage of GDP, he said. The figure stood at 2.8% of GDP in 2012.
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