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Will Olympics become a watershed in China's economy?
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Lin Wenshui, the owner of a jade-processing workshop with four employees in South China's Guangdong Province, still couldn't believe his business had become so slack in just a few months.

At the beginning of this year, Lin had estimated that he might earn at least 200,000 yuan (29,325 U.S. dollars) for 2008.

Things, however, went awry. So far this year, his workshop could hardly make ends meet. He had to dismiss five employees over the months and gradually halved the monthly expenditure from 40,000 yuan to less than 20,000 yuan.

"Dealers tell me there are few jade buyers out there now. Many factories in Guangdong and other regions were closed and bosses went bankrupt. In addition, a lot of investors have lost on the stock trading since share prices tumbled," said the 31-year-old.

He was right. Guangdong, China's traditional export powerhouse, was seeing an unprecedented wave of factory closures owing to rising prices of raw materials, export tax rebate cut and the appreciation of the Chinese yuan.

According to an estimate by the Federation of Hong Kong Industry, 10 percent of the 60,000-70,000 Hong Kong-owned factories in Guangdong would close down this year.

Guangdong was not alone, however. In Zhejiang, the country's another major exporter, about 10,700 enterprises incurred losses in the first five months, accounting for nearly 20 percent of the province's total companies, according to figures by the Zhejiang Economic and Trade Commission.

Nationwide, China's export in the first half stood at 666.6 billion U.S. dollars, up 21.9 percent year on year, but 5.7 percentage points lower than last year's growth.

While on the Chinese stock market, many investors suffered substantial losses as the market had witnessed a nosedive since late last year.

The benchmark Shanghai Composite Index closed at 2,684.78 points on Thursday, down 0.78 percent in the day, and off about 57percent from the market's peak of 6,124 points recorded last October.

Such a rare plunge had led to widespread loss among investors. According to last month's survey among netizen investors conducted by China's flagship television CCTV, more than 92 percent of the total 700,000 respondents said they suffered loss in the stock trading. Nearly 60 percent of the surveyed said they lost more than 50 percent of their investment.

Amid falling export growth and plummeting share prices, many in China were asking whether the country's economy would slip into recession after the August Olympic Games, especially after reviewing past Olympic host countries, most of which experienced post-Olympic troughs in their economy.

Slowdown amid macroeconomic controls, global tensions

As China reported fewer exports, the country's gross domestic production also slowed down, since exports contributed nearly 35 percent of China's GDP.

According to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) on Thursday, China's GDP reached 1.3062 trillion yuan in the first half of the year, up 10.4 percent over the same period last year but 1.8 percentage points lower than last year's growth rate. In breakdown, the growth for the second quarter of this year was 10.1percent, 0.5 percentage points lower than the first quarter.

The consumer price index (CPI), the main gauge of inflation, rose 7.9 percent year on year in the first half of this year, after it hit a 12-year high of 8.7 percent this February, the NBS figures showed.

Economic officials and analysts, however, said such a slowdown was widely expected, based on both the economic policies that had been adopted by China and mounting global economic tensions.

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