prevented them from flying together.

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China opened its annual Central Economic Work Conference on Tuesday amid economists' calls for stronger and more concrete efforts for reform.

The meeting is set to review China's economic progress in 2013 and map out plans for 2014 Cheap Jeff Skinner Hoodie , an important year for carrying out a reform blueprint adopted last month, economists said.

Conference maps nation's path for 2014

The conference is expected to lead to a series of strategic planning meetings at the turn of the year, including for urbanization and rural development.

"Maintaining steady economic progress will be the top priority," said Li Ping, director of the Institute of Quantitative and Technical Economics under the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.

"Under that condition, restructuring reforms can be pushed forward to cope with a new stage of growth," Li said.

Li Yang, deputy head of the academy, a major government think tank, said China cannot wait any longer to transform its pattern of growth, and economic policies should focus on quality growth and efficiency instead of bailouts and high-speed growth in the short term.

Economists said China's economy has entered a new era of structural slowdown, and the rate of economic growth is likely to decrease to less than 6 percent by the end of 2030.

"The structural slowdown is not a concern by itself. But it requires an adjustment of the macroeconomic policy framework," Li Yang said.

The CASS economists aired their views at a forum to mark the publication of the Blue Book of China's Economy, a book of economic reviews and forecasts.

Despite uncertainties, the international environment next year is expected to be more positive than 2013, as the United States may continue to recover and the European Union is likely to be out of recession, which will boost China's exports by an estimated 9.1 percent and imports by 8.5 percent, the CASS said.

The think tank suggested the leadership should maintain proactive fiscal policy and prudent monetary policy next year. It highlighted controlling local government debt risk as well as keeping the money supply and credit growth at a "proper" speed.

Excessive production capacity in the industrial sector, growing costs for labor and capital, quickly increasing local government debt and environment pollution will be the main factors restraining the nation's economic development, said Li Xuesong, a researcher at the academy.

"Pressure for the banking industry is likely to rise in the future. If the economic growth rate sharply decreases in the short term, a crisis in non-performing loans in the banking system will break out in the next two or three years," Li Xuesong said.

In addition, the central government's growth in fiscal income may see an obvious slowdown, he added.

Chang Jian, a senior economist in China at Barclays Capital, said the government may consider lowering the growth target in 2014 to control the potential financial risks and leave more room for reforms.

"Since economic development points to slower growth, lowering the growth target to 7 percent would be more appropriate," she said. "That would also help to guide the expectations of local governments, though the initial response from global investors could be negative."

"So the government's commitment to rebalance the economy can be reflected in the GDP growth target for next year," Chang said.

US President Barack Obama brought former President George W. Bush with him to Africa on Monday to attend a memorial for Nelson Mandela in a high-profile show of American respect for the man who vanquished white-minority rule in South Africa.

First couple of the United States leave for S.Africa to attend Mandela funeral First couple of the United States leave for S.Africa to attend Mandela funeral First couple of the United States leave for S.Africa to attend Mandela funeral

After a long flight from Washington, Obama is to speak on Tuesday at the memorial service in an 80,000-seat soccer stadium in Johannesburg, where more than 70 leaders from around the world will commemorate the life of Mandela, who died on Thursday at age 95.

At his side will be his immediate predecessor, Bush, a Republican, as well as Democratic former Presidents Bill Clinton and Jimmy Carter. The only surviving former president not traveling was Bush's father, George H.W. Bush, who is 89.

On board Air Force One for the cross-Atlantic flight to Africa were Obama, his wife, Michelle; Bush and his wife, Laura; and Hillary Clinton, who was Obama's first secretary of state and who is contemplating her own run for the presidency in 2016.

The fact that the leaders from both parties joined together for the trip to South Africa underscored the importance of Mandela's life and legacy, said Martha Joynt Kumar, a political scientist at Towson University in Maryland who studies the presidency.

"It puts a ... stamp on the importance that the United States thought of Mandela, his importance as a world leader," Kumar said.

Air Force One stopped in Senegal's capital Dakar to refuel on its way to South Africa. On the flight, the three families sat in a conference room toward the front of the plane, chatting to each other at a large round table.

Obama kept his usual quarters in the front of the plane, while the medical unit cabin was transformed into the Bushes' quarters for the flight. Clinton stayed in the senior staff cabin.

It was Bush's first flight on Air Force One since handing over power to Obama in 2009 and it was the most time he had spent in close proximity to Obama since returning to Dallas after he left the White House.

Carter and Bill Clinton will meet up with them in South Africa. Logistical issues prevented them from flying together.


Presidential travel usually requires week"

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