The Chinese economy not only remained stable last year, it expanded by 6.1 percent despite external turbulence. That suggests resilience backed by a vast domestic market, data released on Friday indicated.
After 6 percent year-on-year GDP growth in the last quarter, which was unchanged from Q3, the world’s second-largest economy registered annual growth of 6.1 percent year-on-year, which is within the country’s target range of 6 percent to 6.5 percent set for 2019, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.
“The economy was generally stable last year, with a steady rise in the quality of development,” said Ning Jizhe, head of the NBS.
China’s annual GDP came in at 99.09 trillion yuan ($14.4 trillion) last year, while per capita GDP topped $10,000 for the first time at $10,276, Ning said.
Despite the easing of growth from 2018’s 6.6 percent, China remains the strongest engine of the global growth, Ning said, adding that its growth last year was the greatest of all economies whose annual GDP exceeds $1 trillion.
Liu Chunsheng, associate professor of international trade at Central University of Finance and Economics, said the 6.1 percent figure was “hard-earned” and added that the trade dispute with the United States, together with a decade-low in global growth, have taken a toll on demand and confidence.
“Even under such heavy downward pressure from the external environment, the Chinese economy has remained largely stable. This is, without a doubt, an indication of China’s great resilience,” Liu said.
The strong domestic market, with its booming service sector and steadily rising consumption — each of which contributed to nearly 60 percent of last year’s economic growth — has helped the Chinese economy withstand external uncertainties, the NBS figures suggest.
Output growth of the services sector stood at 6.9 percent last year, outpacing the 5.7 percent growth of the industrial sector, while retail sales rose by 8.0 percent from 9.0 percent in 2018.
“In a disorderly world economy, China has maintained its advantage of relative stability,” said Cheng Shi, managing director and chief economist at ICBC International Holdings.
Cheng expected the economy to remain on a trajectory of stable growth during the first quarter of this year, given the easing of trade tensions with the US after the signing of the phase-one trade deal with China on Thursday, and in combination with the country’s accelerated issuance of special-purpose bonds, which will bolster infrastructure investment. These will help confidence recover in the market, he said.
The International Monetary Fund has raised its 2020 GDP growth forecast for China from 5.8 percent to 6 percent as a result of the inking of the phase-one deal.
NBS head Ning said that the authorities will take resolute steps to complete the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects by the end of this year and that China’s ample policy space, complete industrial chains and huge potential in domestic demand will help ensure steady and sustainable economic growth.
The office of the financial stability and development committee of the State Council said on Friday that positive factors are on the rise.
The country should stick with reform and opening-up measures to break bottlenecks in economic development, including advancing supply-side structural reforms in the financial sector and further opening up the sector to foreign investors, it said in a statement.