Chinese economy sustains recovery momentum, makes notable progress in Q1

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, April 17, 2024
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A worker works at a production line of a smart production base of H&T, a supplier of a wide range of products to the home appliance, power tools, and automotive industry, in Qingdao, east China's Shandong Province, March 26, 2024. [Photo/Xinhua]

The Chinese economy has seen strengthened recovery momentum in the first quarter of 2024, with significant strides in cultivating new quality productive forces laying a solid foundation for the bid to achieve the full-year growth target of around 5 percent.

China's gross domestic product (GDP) grew 5.3 percent year on year to 29.63 trillion yuan (about 4.17 trillion U.S. dollars) in the first three months of 2024, data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showed Tuesday.

The pace accelerated from the 5.2-percent overall GDP growth for 2023 and the 5.2-percent GDP growth recorded in the fourth quarter of last year.

On a quarterly basis, the economy expanded by 1.6 percent in the first three months of this year, according to the NBS.

A good start to the year

"China's high-quality development has made new achievements in the first quarter. The national economy has sustained recovery momentum and got off to a good start," Sheng Laiyun, deputy head of the NBS, told a press conference.

Sheng mentioned positive factors during this period, such as rising production demand, stable employment and prices, and growing market confidence.

"These positive factors driving economic recovery are accumulating and strengthening, laying a good foundation for full-year growth," said Sheng.

Sheng also noted that the 5.3-percent GDP growth was mainly driven by a rebound in the industrial sector and an improvement in the service sector.

China's value-added industrial output went up 6.1 percent year on year in the first three months of 2024, with the high-tech manufacturing sector expanding 7.5 percent -- accelerating by 2.6 percentage points from the fourth quarter of 2023.

The better-than-expected industrial growth in the first quarter was the result of factors including a policy-driven increase in business confidence and positive changes in both domestic and external demand.

The service sector also registered accelerated growth in the first three months. Service consumption maintained solid expansion, contributing 55.7 percent to the economic growth.

Other key indicators also saw sound increases. Fixed-asset investment rose 4.5 percent year on year in the January-March period, with the pace of growth accelerating from a rise of 4.2 percent in the January-February period and growth of 3 percent for the entire 2023.

Retail sales of consumer goods climbed 4.7 percent year on year, with online retail sales jumping 12.4 percent year on year. Final consumption contributed 73.7 percent to GDP growth in the first quarter, NBS data revealed.

Tuesday's data also showed that the country's surveyed urban unemployment rate was 5.2 percent in March, down 0.1 percentage points compared with both February 2024 and March 2023, indicating a generally stable employment situation.

Sheng attributed the upbeat momentum in the first quarter of 2024 to the implementation of supportive government policies and intensified macro-control efforts.

The central government introduced large-scale policies concerning equipment renewal and reconstruction and consumer goods trade-in, which to some extent also boosted business confidence, prompting some enterprises to schedule production in advance, he told the press.

Cultivating new quality productive forces

With economic recovery continuing to gain traction, China has made notable progress in its development of new quality productive forces, which is high on this year's agenda.

The major high-tech manufacturing industry advanced the value-added industrial output by 1.1 percentage points in the first quarter, Sheng said, highlighting the role of new growth momentum and new industries.

The country's production of smart products has seen particularly rapid growth. In the first quarter, China's output of service robots increased by 26.7 percent from the same period of 2023, while its output of 3D printing equipment saw double-digit growth.

On the investment front, investment in high-tech industries grew 11.4 percent year on year in the first three months of 2024, and investment in high-tech service sectors expanded 12.7 percent in this period.

It is crucial to maintain strong growth in investment and industrial production to achieve the full-year target, said Zhang Liqun, a researcher with the Development Research Center of the State Council, stressing the importance of promoting infrastructure investment.

Looking ahead, Sheng said China will strive to develop new quality productive forces at an accelerated pace, as "it is the biggest driving force for China's economic transformation and high-quality development."

Sheng also cautioned that the foundations of economic recovery still need to be consolidated, because the external environment is complicated and unstable.

The government will intensify the implementation of macro policies, forestall and defuse risks, and enhance economic vitality to consolidate and strengthen the recovery momentum, Sheng added.

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