China To Locals: Enforce Land Controls, Or Else

Government desperately trying to slow sizzling economic growth.

BEIJING (AP) - Premier Wen Jiabao ordered Chinese officials on Wednesday to enforce controls on land use and credit as the government tries to cool off the roaring economy.

The order came amid efforts to compel defiant local authorities to enforce controls meant to slow down a boom that Chinese leaders worry could ignite a financial crisis.

''Adhere to controls on land and credit,'' the official Xinhua News Agency quoted Wen as saying during a Cabinet meeting as he announced a quarterly government plan for economic and social development.

The announcement came on the eve of the closely watched release Thursday of economic growth figures.

Beijing has raised interest rates twice this year and imposed curbs on construction and investment in an attempt to rein in a growth rate that soared to 11.3 percent in the last quarter.

Business people worry that if the third-quarter figures announced this week are too high, the government might boost interest rates again or impose still more controls to curb expansion.

Forecasts by China's central bank, the World Bank and other experts say economic growth for the full year should be 10.5 percent.

China's leaders complain that local officials are obstructing efforts to cool off dangerously fast economic growth by failing to rein in a boom in construction and lending.

This week, investigators were dispatched to the provinces to find out whether local officials are obeying orders to control sizzling economic growth, according to a Cabinet announcement.

In September, Cabinet officials were dispatched from Beijing to warn defiant provincial leaders to obey economic directives.

That came after the Communist Party secretary of Shanghai, China's business center, was sacked in a corruption scandal. He reportedly had clashed with Wen over economic controls, demanding that Shanghai be allowed to continue rapid growth.

Wen also ordered officials to carry out government plans to conserve energy and cut pollution, and he told them to look after the public, said the Xinhua report, which was read out on the state television national evening news.

''Solve problems related to the basic interests of the masses. Actively expand employment and strengthen social security work,'' he was quoted as saying. ''Severely crack down on any illegal activities that harm consumers. Strengthen market rectification for food safety.''