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China's industrial output rose 8.6 percent in January and February year-on-year, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) announced Thursday, the worst result in nearly five years. The body released statistics covering a two month period due to China's Lunar New year holiday week, which fell in both months. The figures come as China's leadership says it wants to transform the growth model away from an over-reliance on often wasteful investment, and instead make private demand the driver for the country's future development. China announced earlier this month that is targeting economic growth of about 7.5 percent in 2014, the same as last year.
Japanese electronics giant Panasonic said Thursday it would give employees sent to China a wage premium to compensate for the country's hazardous air pollution, in a possible first for an international company. The move was part of a wider deal reached in Japan's annual labour talks which saw major firms, including Panasonic and Toyota, agree to boost workers' salaries for the first time in years, amid concerns about an economic slowdown after a sales tax rise next month. A Panasonic spokesman confirmed the pollution-linked pay premium for its expatriate workers, but declined to give further details or say how many such workers it has in China, which has extensive trade and business links with Japan. So-called hardship pay is not unusual for employees of foreign firms sent to work to China, but Panasonic is believed to be the first to announce a premium to compensate for polluted air.