Finance minister says China can handle government debt risks

China's finance minister has tried to defuse concern over the country's rising debt, saying government borrowing is below danger levels and regulators can prevent financial system risks.

Xiao Jie's comments Wednesday follow Beijing's criticism last year of global rating agencies that cut its credit rating due to China's total government and corporate debt burden.

The minister said government debt at the end of 2017 declined slightly from a year earlier as a percentage of annual economic output.

Xiao made no mention of corporate borrowing that makes up most of a total Chinese debt burden estimated to have risen to 270 percent of gross domestic product, high for a developing country.

The minister said by following debt and budget rules, "we are fully able to ensure there is no systemic risk."