The Chinese economy grew around 10.1 percent last year, the deputy head of China's top economic planning agency told Reuters on Saturday, which amounts to the fastest pace of annual growth in three years.

Zhang Xiaoqiang, vice chairman of the National Development and Reform Commission, said the country's gross domestic product totalled about 39.5 trillion yuan ($6 trillion) in 2010.

The 2010 growth rate accelerated from a revised 9.2 percent expansion seen in 2009.

But Zhang noted that China may struggle to meet its 2011 inflation target of 4 percent as domestic labour costs climb and global commodity prices soar.

There are many factors that are putting upward pressure on domestic prices, and we must note that imported inflation is intensifying this year, he said at a trade forum.

Zhang reiterated the government aims for growth this year of 8 percent in China's economy, the world's biggest, but stressed that the task of keeping prices stable will top Beijing's agenda.

He said uncertainties around the pace of recovery in the world economy could weigh on China's key export sector in 2011.

We may face big difficulties in growing our exports in the future, he said.

To get around that, Zhang said, Chinese exporters should endeavour to move up the manufacturing value chain and place less emphasis on volume and more on quality.

His assessment of China's outlook is less upbeat than that of China's Commerce Minister Chen Deming.

Chen said on Friday China's exports and imports will grow at a faster pace this year than in 2010.

Chinese exports jumped around 31 percent in 2010 from a year ago, while imports leapt nearly 39 percent.