China's economy picks up steam

Officials say latest data puts economy on target to top 8 per cent growth for the year.

    Officials say there is no question that the growth target of 8 per cent for the year will be met [Reuters]

    "We are sure that we can achieve the full year target of 8 percent," Li Xiaochao, spokesman for the National Bureau of Statistics told reporters in Beijing.

    "There is no question about it."

    Stimulus

    The latest figures mark a significant upturn from the first quarter of the year when growth in the January to March period stood at just 6.1 per cent.

    "Investment played an important and positive role in maintaining relatively fast growth and reversing the slowdown"

    Li Xiaochao,
    National Bureau of Statistics

    Then many economists had doubted that the economy would manage to hit the government's target.

    But a massive government stimulus programme, involving $586bn of government spending, has helped counter the downturn and limit the impact of plunging demand for Chinese exports.

    Much of the cash has been spent on new rail and road programmes, aimed at pumping up the domestic economy.

    As a result, officials say, investment in factories, construction and other fixed assets rose by one third in the first three quarters of the year, hitting a record $2.27 trn.

    "Investment played an important and positive role in maintaining relatively fast growth and reversing the slowdown," Li Xiaochao, the statistics bureau spokesman, told reporters.

    Export rebound

    Meanwhile, he added, domestic consumption such as consumer spending contributed nearly a third of the growth in economic activity.

    At the same time a mild rebound in orders from overseas markets has helped restore some of the millions of jobs lost at the peak of the downturn when factories closed by the thousands as plunging global demand slammed exports.

    Many analysts have expressed caution that growth rates may begin to slide once again as the stimulus spending runs its course.

    But Robert Howe, chief executive of Geomatrix, a Hong Kong-based-investment company, said there were signs that the recovery had expanded beyond being almost purely government spending-related.

    "Some of the fixed asset investment was from the private sector, so it is spreading and it is a bit more sustainable," he told Al Jazeera.

    Nonetheless he said was sceptical about hopes in some quarters that China's apparent rapid recovery from the slowdown could help prop up other struggling economies.

    "China is always going to be about China," Howe said.

    "They're going to be helping Australia, buying as much of Australia's resources as the Australians will let them, and they'll do the same in Africa. But they're not going to be creating a lot of jobs in Iowa, Detroit, and Birmingham, England – it's going to be a shift to autonomous growth in China."

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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