China's economic growth declined to 8.9 percent in the final quarter of last year after Beijing hiked interest rates and tightened other controls to cool an overheated economy and inflation. Chinese leaders reversed course in December and promised more bank lending to help companies cope with the slump in global demand but changes have been gradual.
Zoellick said he expects China to achieve a "soft landing" this year and avoid an abrupt slowdown.
He contrasted China's ability to make changes with the difficulties faced by crisis-hit Italy and Spain in restructuring their economies amid little or no growth.
"What I am picking up from discussions, not only in Beijing but with provincial party secretaries, is a recognition that it is better to undertake structural reforms while the economy is growing," he said.
"The timing of this report is also important, because you'll have a leadership transition in China."
World Bank: www.worldbank.org
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