China's finance minister has hinted that economic growth may fall far below 7% in the second half of the year.

Speaking in Washington, Lou Jiwei thought growth for 2013 as a whole would be 7%, but said that even this may not be the "bottom line".

That figure is below Beijing's official 7.5% target, and below most economists' forecasts for the country.

Mr Lou's comments highlight how rapidly the country is slowing down, as Beijing seeks to rein in a construction boom.

He also caused some confusion by implying that 7% was now the government's target, even though the target was set at 7.5% in March.