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China still faces 'severity' in foreign trade, urges unity in Europe

China still faces 'severity' in foreign trade, urges unity in Europe
A clerk at an foreign currency exchange desk at a hotel shows Chinese yuan banknotes in Shanghai. (Eugene Hoshiko / AP Photo)

China’s foreign trade situation will face “continuing severity” this year, according to Commerce Minister Chen Deming in a statement Monday.

But, "if lucky," imports and exports could still grow about 10%, according to a brief note on the central government website.

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Chinese officials are increasingly taking a cautious tone toward the economic outlook in the world’s second-largest economy as Europe, a key trading partner, continues to grapple with its debt crisis.

Also Monday, after Spain asked for a 100-billion-euro bailout and concerns mounted over upcoming elections in Greece and possible contagion in Italy, China's Vice Finance Minister Zhu Guangyao called for more unity and resolution out of Europe.

He said the Spain bailout “would have a beneficial effect on short-term risk controls,” according to a note posted on the government’s website. As G20 leaders, including China’s President Hu Jintao, prepare to meet in Los Cabos, Mexico, next week, Zhu urged “a timely consensus to prevent the crisis from spreading.”

China fears that European turmoil could wreak havoc on its own slowing economy. On Thursday, the Central Bank cut a key interest rate for the first time in more than three years. The Central Bank said Monday that Chinese banks boosted lending last month to stabilize the country's growth.

Exports, however, still appear surprisingly strong, rising 15.3% in May, China's General Administration of Customs said Sunday. Europe and the United States both increased imports from the Asian superpower.

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