China’s economy grows slowest in a quarter century

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China’s economy grew at its slowest pace in a quarter of a century in 2015, official data showed, indicating the government has a daunting task ahead as introduces reforms to reshape the economic landscape.

The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said the economy expanded 6.9 percent year on year in 2015. Growth in the fourth quarter came in at 6.8 percent year on year, the lowest quarterly rate since the global financial crisis, the data showed, according to Xinhua.

The Chinese government had targeted an annual economic growth of around 7 percent for 2015.

The country’s gross domestic product (GDP) reached 67.67 trillion yuan (about $10.3 trillion dollars) in 2015, with the service sector accounting for 50.5 percent — the first time the ratio exceeded 50 percent, according to the NBS.

China’s economy still “ran within a reasonable range” in 2015, with its structure further optimised, upgrading accelerated, new growth drivers strengthened and people’s lives improved, NBS chief Wang Baoan told a press conference, Xinhua reported.

However, the country faces a daunting task in deepening reforms on all fronts and needs to step up supply-side structural reforms, he said.

Major economic indicators softened in 2015, with industrial output growth slowing to 6.1 percent year on year from 8.3 percent in 2014, NBS figures showed.

Urban fixed-asset investment continued to cool, expanding 10 percent year on year, compared with 15.7 percent in 2014. Retail sales rose 10.7 percent, down from 12 percent registered in 2014. Foreign trade ended 2015 with its first annual contraction in six years.

Sagging global trade, rising financial risks and changing domestic market conditions were among the factors affecting the economy, Wang said.

He also pointed to an ailing property sector and stock market fluctuations but said their impact on the economy was either limited or yet to be evaluated.

Wang dismissed worries about China’s government debts, noting that they accounted for less than 40 percent of the country’s GDP, well below the internationally accepted alert line of 60 percent, Xinhua said.

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