SCIO briefing on national economic performance in H1

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Xing Zhihong, spokesperson and director general of the Department of Comprehensive Statistics, National Bureau of Statistics

Xi Yanchun, vice director-general of the Press Bureau, State Council Information Office

July 17, 2017

Xi Yanchun:

Thanks to Mr. Xing Zhihong for his introduction. We see many foreign media reporters here today, and we have arranged on-site simultaneous interpretation. Now, the floor is open to questions. Please identify the media you represent before raising a question.


According to your introduction just now, China's economy has still maintained strong growth in the second quarter. How has China managed to maintain this growth? What's your view of the national economy's performance over the past half year? Thanks!

Xing Zhihong:

Thank you for your questions. During the past half year, China's economy has had stable progress and a positive trend. There were many positive changes in the economic area, I can say that the good elements have further increased to sustain the economy's intermediate- and high-speed growth.

To summarize the characteristics of the economy's operation in the past half year, there are two points: one, stability has been reinforced; and the good trend has become more evident.

As I say, the stable situation has become more reinforced and it was reflected in the fact that the economy keeps operating in a reasonable range. First, economic growth was stable in the past half year, China's economy maintained intermediate and high speed growth and GDP grew by 6.9 percent year-on-year, which is in line with the first quarter. The economic growth rate has kept within a range of 6.7 percent and 6.9 percent in eight consecutive quarters.

Second, the employment situation maintained a positive trend. In the past half year, urban and township areas saw new employment of 7.35 million people, which was 180,000 more on a year-on-year basis, and this completed 66.8 percent of the annual goal. The urban and township unemployment rate generally went down. According to statistics from the National Bureau of Statistics of China, the survey shows that the national urban unemployment rate was kept under 5 percent in two consecutive months. In 31 big cities, the survey shows that their urban unemployment rate was kept under 5 percent in four consecutive months. There is more labor from rural areas. Just now I have mentioned that by the end of the second quarter, the number of migrant workers from rural areas working in urban areas has increased 3.64 million people, a 2.1 percent growth year-on-year.

Third, the price of commodities was generally stable. In the past half year, the national consumer price increased by 1.4 percent, which was basically in line with the first quarter; minus food and energy, the core CPI was basically stable, and the core CPI increased by 2.1 percent on a year-on-year basis.

Fourth, the international balance of payments continued to improve. The trade in goods continued its surplus. In the past half year, after balancing exports and imports of the trade in goods, we realized a 1.28 trillion yuan surplus. The RMB slightly appreciated, and foreign exchange reserves continued to rise. By the end of June, RMB's middle rate is 1 US dollar against 6.77 RMB yuan, which means an 1.84 percent appreciation for RMB compared with the rate at the end of March. China's forex reserves reached US$3.0568 trillion, a consecutive increase for 5 months.

So generally looking at the indexes of the four aspects in the macro-economy, we can see China's economy in the past half year shows stable growth, good employment, stable prices of commodities and an improved international balance of payment. The economic growth stability clearly was reinforced.

Regarding the positive trend becoming more evident, it is shown in three aspects: First, the structure was optimized by reform. The supply-side structural reform continues to have deep progress, which pushes forward the production and demand structure to be further optimized. From this year on, the distinction of the service industry dominating economic growth became clearer. In the past half year, the growth rate of the service industry was 1.3 percent faster than the secondary industry, while the service industry accounted for 54.1 percent of the whole economy, which was 14 percentage points higher than the secondary industry's percentage.

The manufacturing industry was progressing to the middle and high end. The high-tech manufacturing industry and equipment manufacturing industry grew 13.1 percent and 11.5 percent respectively on a year-on-year basis, which is 6.2 and 4.6 percentage points faster respectively than the overall industry above designated size. They accounted for over 12.2 percent and 32.2 percent of the whole industry above designated size respectively. Consumption has speeded up transformation and upgrading; high-tech industry investment has increased rapidly, while the consuming and needs structures are also adjusting and optimizing.

Second, the dynamics was strengthened in the transformation. The deep pushing forward of reforms to delegate power, streamline administrative procedures and optimize government services will optimize the environment of entrepreneurship and innovation. From this year on, many market entities surfaced and developed. From January to May, the number of newly registered enterprises increased by 14.7 percent on a year-on-year basis, and there are an average of 15,600 new enterprises registering on a daily basis.

The development of new entities and new technologies efficiently prompted the growth of new industries, new business formats and new patterns – resulting in new dynamics for economic development. In the past half year, the national online retail sales of physical products increased by 28.6 percent year-on-year, which was 18.2 percentage points faster than the nation's consumer goods retail sales. This took over 13.8 percent of total consumer goods retail volume, which was 2.2 percentage points higher year-on-year. Strategic new industries grew 10.8 percent year-on-year, which was 3.9 percent faster than the industry above designated size. The new force in the economy is constantly growing and strengthening.

Third, the quality is improving in transformation. While the economy keeps intermediate- and high-speed growth, quality has further improved. This year, enterprises' benefits clearly improved. From January to May, the enterprises above designated size saw their profits grow by 22.7 percent year-on-year. The main business revenue of the enterprises above designated size had profit margins of 6.05 percent, which is 0.45 percentage points higher year-on-year. The business profit of enterprises above designated size also maintained double-digit growth, and the consumer income's growth rate was faster than economic growth. In the past half year, personal per capita disposable income increased by 7.3 percent, 0.8 percentage points higher than the same period last year, and 0.4 percentage points higher than the economic growth rate in the same period of this year.

In fiscal terms, although tax reductions and fee cuts were large for enterprises, due to stable and positive economic growth, the tax base continues to expand. Therefore in the past half year, the public budget revenue increased by 9.8 percent year-on-year, and the growth rate was 2.7 percentage points higher year-on-year.

To summarize all of the above, in the past half year, China's economy was stable and positive, this trend became clearer and laid a solid foundation for China to complete its projected main economic targets.

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