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Business

China approves railway projects to boost economy

China has announced massive investments towards improving the country's railway network. The large infrastructure program aims to foster growth as China has seen the pace of its economic growth slowing down of late.

Chinese officials reported on Thursday that 25 large-scale urban rail projects had been approved to help stimulate the country's slowing economic growth.

The National Development and Reform Commission, which is China's central planning agency, spoke of projects valued at 800 billion yuan ($127 billion, 100 billion euros). It said investments would get underway in at least five major cities.

East China Normal University economist Xu Changle told the AFP news agency that the initiative reflected the government's concern about flagging growth in the country.

"The Chinese economy has been faced with weak external demand as the US economy has been struggling to gain traction and Europe is slipping towards recession," Xu said.

Herculean effort

Beijing's announcement came on the back of railway schemes already approved earlier this year. The National Development and Reform Commission said on its website that projects in 18 cities had been given the green light between April and August, including two metro lines in Shanghai.

Chinese industry leaders estimated the length of subway lines in the country would more than quadruple between now and 2020 to 7,000 km (4,347 miles), with 40 cities believed to have metro systems by that date.

Despite the massive railway investment scheme, China has so far refrained from moves like the 4.0-trillion-yuan fiscal stimulus it launched in the wake of the global financial crisis in 2008.

hg/msh (AFP, dpa)