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GDP Grows 11.1 Percent in First Quarter
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China's gross domestic product, or GDP, totaled 5.03 trillion yuan (US$653 billion) in the first quarter of this year, according to latest figures provided by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) Thursday.

The growth was 0.7 percentage points higher than the year-earlier level, or 0.4 percentage points higher than the level for whole of last year.

China's primary, secondary and tertiary sectors reported a respective 363.1 billion, 2.56 trillion and 2.11 trillion yuan in added value, with the secondary sector, including manufacturing, mining and construction, growing at the fastest year-on-year rate -- 13.2 percent -- in the January-March period, the statistical bureau said.

The primary sector posted a growth rate of 4.4 percent and the tertiary sector, including transport, posts and telecommunications, catering, tourism, banking and insurance, recorded an increase of 9.9 percent, the bureau added.

The rapid economic growth was driven by investment, consumption and import and export, said Li Xiaochao, spokesman with the statistical bureau, citing consumption in particular, which grew in an impressive way in the first quarter.

As for the question about whether the Chinese economy is overheated, Li said it was a comprehensive problem, and to judge whether it is overheated, the GDP-growth indicator alone was not enough.

But Li warned that now there existed a risk for the economy to evolve from fast growth to overheating.

According to the bureau, China's consumer price index, or CPI, a major inflation index, grew by 2.7 percent in the first quarter, 1.5 percentage points higher than the same period of last year.

The three-month period saw a quicker growth in retail sales together with a slower growth in investment, which was seen as a healthier development for the fast-growing national economy, according to Li Xiaochao.

The nation's retail sales was up 14.9 percent year-on-year to 2.12 trillion yuan (US$275.2 billion), with the increment 2.1 percentage points higher than a year earlier.

Fixed-assets investment amounted to 1.75 trillion yuan (US$227.6 billion), up 23.7 percent. The growth was four percentage points slower than the same period of last year.

Of the total, however, the real estate sector used 254.4 billion yuan (US$46 billion), up 26.9 percent. The growth rate was 6.7 percentage points higher than the year-earlier level and 1.6 percentage points than the growth rate for fixed assets investment in urban areas.

Input in residential housing projects stood at 246.2 billion yuan, up 30.4 percent, 7.3 percentage points quicker than the year-earlier level.

Between January and March, China realized US$457.7 billion in foreign trade, up 23.3 percent. The total included US$252.1 billion in export value, up 27.8 percent, and US$205.7 billion in import value, up 18.2 percent. The trade surplus reached US$46.4 billion, US$23.1 billion more than the year-earlier level.

China actually used US$15.9 billion in foreign direct investment in the three months, up 11.6 percent. By the end of March, the country's foreign exchange reserves stood at US$1.2 trillion, an increment of US$135.7 billion from the end of 2006.

In the first quarter, urban residents had their per-capita disposable income rise 19.5 percent, or 16.6 percent in real term, to 3,935 yuan, and the cash income of rural dwellers up 15.2 percent, or 12.1 percent in real term, to 1,260 yuan.

The real-term growth in urbanites' income was 5.8 percentage points higher year-on-year, while farmers' income grew 0.6 percentage points quicker.

At the end of March, the outstanding amount of narrow money, or M1 (cash plus corporate current deposits), stood at 12.8 trillion yuan, a growth of 19.8 percent year-on-year, 7.1 percentage points quicker.

The outstanding amount of broad money, or M2 (M1 plus residential savings deposits), stood at 36.4 trillion yuan, a growth of 17.3 percent year-on-year, 1.5 percentage points slower.

Cash in circulation (M0) amounted to 2.7 trillion yuan, a growth of 16.7 percent, 6.2 percentage points faster.

(Xinhua News Agency April 19, 2007)

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