China’s economy grows 6.8% in third quarter, meeting expectation
China’s economic growth expanded at a robust 6.8 percent annual pace in the three months ending in September, a marginal change from the previous quarter’s 6.9 percent, according to data released by the National Bureau of Statistics yesterday, a day after President Xi Jinping made big promises for the country's economic future during a pivotal leadership meeting.
 
In his opening speech on Wednesday, Mr Xi noted that gross domestic product rose Rmb26tn ($3.9tn) during his first five years in office, declaring that “China has seen the basic needs of over 1bn people met”.
 
This is the ninth straight quarter that China has seen growth of 6.7-6.9 percent, maintaining medium-high growth and adding to evidence of further economic resilience, bureau spokesman Xing Zhihong told reporters.
 
In the first three quarters combined, the economy expanded 6.9 percent year on year, holding steady from a 6.9 percent increase in the first half of the year.
 
The economy is expected to comfortably beat the government’s 2017 target of around 6.5 percent and 2016’s 6.7 percent, which was a 26-year low.
 
“The sound economic expansion in the first three quarters has “further laid a solid foundation for achieving the annual development target,” Xing said.
 
Economic structure and growth quality both improved, he said, and new growth engines are gaining steam as employment had expanded, consumer prices were stable, and the balance of international payments had improved.
 
Growth in the service sector outpaced the overall GDP to reach 7.8 percent year on year in the first three quarters.
 
Yesterday’s data also showed that total sales of consumer goods rose 10.4 percent year on year to 26.32 trillion yuan (US$4 trillion) in the first three quarters. The pace was unchanged compared with the same period of last year.
 
The bureau attributed the growth partly to booming online sales, which surged 34.2 percent year on year, 8.1 percentage points faster than a year earlier.
 
Online sales of physical goods rose 29.1 percent to 3.68 trillion yuan in the first three quarters, accounting for 14 percent of total retail sales.
 
China is trying to shift its economy toward a growth model driven more by consumer spending, innovation and services while weaning it off reliance on exports and investment.
 
Investment growth has slowed in recent years amid efforts by authorities to move from investment-driven economic growth.
 
Fixed-asset investment expanded 7.5 percent in the first nine months, marking the slowest rate of growth since a 6.3 percent reading in December 1999.
 
China’s industrial output growth accelerated to a three-month high of 6.6 percent in September, up from 6 percent in August.
 
On Monday, the People's Bank of China quoted its governor, Zhou Xiaochuan, as saying the world's second-largest economy is likely to post growth of 7 percent in the second half of the year thanks to rapid household spending. First half GDP growth was 6.9 percent.
 
That is more optimistic than the target China had set earlier this year when premier Li Keqiang said the country was aiming to expand its economy by around 6.5 percent in 2017.
 
Xi said Wednesday that the world's second-largest economy will move from high-speed to high-quality growth as it pushes ahead with reforms.
 

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