China will extend active fiscal policies aimed at countering the global economic slowdown into 2010, the nation's finance minister said, warning that departing too early from those policies could damage the economy.

Chinese Finance Minister Xie Xuren made the comments at a policy-setting meeting on Sunday, the official Xinhua news agency reported late on Sunday. Xie said China's active fiscal policies in 2010 would focus on expanding domestic consumer demand.

Recent statistics from China have indicated the economy is picking up pace. Data released on Sunday showed China recorded a 17.7 percent year-on-year jump in exports in December, well above a forecast for 4.0 percent growth.

But Xie set a more sober tone, and warned against exiting from stimulus spending policies that have shored up that growth.

In 2010, active fiscal policies will continue, and this means we cannot weaken the intensity of fiscal support for economic development, avoiding the losses to our achievements that would come from an excessively early exit, Xinhua cited Xie as telling the meeting.

This year, he added, government spending policies would give greater emphasis to expanding domestic demand.

China's economy shot back to nearly double-digit growth in 2009 after nearly standing still at the end of 2008, giving a lift to Asia and countries that have been able to feed its voracious appetite for commodities.

The country's 4 trillion yuan ($585.9 billion) stimulus package, complemented by a record surge in bank lending, propelled the economy to 8.9 percent year-on-year growth in the third quarter of 2009 and put it on track for even faster expansion this year.

Xie told the meeting that efforts to expand domestic demand would include policies to raise incomes, especially for poorly paid workers and farmers; continued spending on public works, including schools and hospitals; and taxation changes.

(Reporting by Chris Buckley; Editing by Bill Tarrant and Jonathan Hopfner)