Written by Staff Writer
19 Jan, 2016 | 11:05 am
China’s economy grew by 6.9% in 2015, compared with 7.3% a year earlier, marking its slowest growth in a quarter of a century.
Beijing had set an official growth target of “about 7%” for the world’s second-largest economy.
Premier Li Keqiang has said a slower growth rate would be acceptable as long as enough new jobs were created.
China’s growth, seen as a driver of the global economy, is a major concern for investors around the world.
Some observers say its growth is actually much weaker than official data suggests, though Beijing denies numbers are being inflated.
Analysts say any growth below 6.8% would likely fuel calls for further economic stimulus. Economic growth in the final quarter of 2015 edged down to 6.8%, according to the country’s national bureau of statistics.
After experiencing rapid growth for more than a decade, China’s economy has experienced a painful slowdown in the last two years.
That has prompted the central government to move towards an economy led by consumption and services, rather than one driven by exports and investment.
But managing that transition has been challenging.
Recent falls on Chinese equity markets have also created panic on global markets about the mainland’s economic strength.
Critics say China’s data is unreliable and that real growth figures may be much weaker. Recent provincial economic data has indicated that growth could be much lower than what the government says it is.
Monthly industrial production (IP) and retail sales numbers for China were also released on Tuesday, and came in worse than expected.
IP numbers – or factory output – expanded 5.9% in December, down from 6% in November. Retail sales grew 11.1%, down from 11.3% in November.
In some brighter news, however, figures released on Monday showed property prices rose 1.6% in December from a year earlier. The country’s housing market accounts for about 15% of the economy and the December numbers mark the third consecutive month of year-on-year gains.
Forecasts were predicting a 4.1% fall in exports, but a weakening currency may have boosted the lagging sector.
Imports also beat expectations in yuan-denominated terms to only fall 4%, compared with forecasts of a 7.9% slump.
The jump in exports was the first rise since June last year as the sector has been battered by slowing demand and slumping commodity prices.
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