China economy grows at slowest pace in 25 years, latest GDP figures show
World’s second-largest economy posts figures that add to fears of a slowdown that will affect financial markets across the world
China’s economy grew at its slowest rate in a quarter of a century in 2015, data released on Tuesday showed, increasing pressure on Beijing to address fears of a prolonged slowdown and ease the jitters affecting global markets.
The full-year growth of 6.9% was only just short of government expectations of 7% but by contrast, growth in 2014 stood at 7.3%.
The imminent collapse of the Chinese Ponzi-scheme economy shows that we need to bring control to the international economy
The national bureau of statistics’ bulletin showed GDP growth at 6.8% in the three months to December, easing from 6.9% in the previous quarter – the slowest quarterly rate since 2009, when growth slowed to 6.2%.
The slide from the previous quarter was expected, but will add to concerns about the health of the world’s second-biggest economy as it confronts a range of challenges, including weak exports, high debt levels and slowing investment.
China’s industrial output in December rose 5.9% from a year earlier, compared with forecasts for a 6.0% increase.
The lack of surprises did at least offer some respite to stock and currency markets.
MSCI’s broadest index of Asia-Pacific shares outside Japan was up 0.2% on Tuesday after earlier touching its lowest level since October 2011. Australian shares added 0.8%, while Tokyo’s Nikkei dropped 0.3%. In Shanghai, recent volatility gave way to a 0.2% rise, following a 13-month low on Monday.
The US dollar nudged up 0.2% to 117.55 yen after slipping last week to a four-and-a-half-month low of 116.51.
Analysts were cautiously optimistic about the China’s fortunes following the tumult of the past few weeks.
“I think that at least the biggest fears about the real economy, fears that came to the surface during the stock market rout … I think those biggest fears were overblown,” said Louis Kuijs, head of Asia economics at Oxford Economics in Hong Kong.
“We don’t see signs of an abrupt slowdown, or something getting worse than we had expected say six weeks ago.”
Gordon Kwan, a Hong Kong-based analyst at Nomura Holdings, said: “China’s GDP growth is not collapsing, even though the fourth-quarter figures are slightly lower than expectations.”
Kwan said he expected additional government stimulus, but added that the Chinese economy was “in decent shape, despite the recent hype about how it is on the verge of collapse”.
He believed the rest of the world would take positives from Tuesday’s data. “Judging by what’s happening in the markets now, there will be a sigh of relief that quarterly growth was 6.8% and not, say 6%,” he said. “But it’s early days yet – the real test will be the first-quarter GDP figures.”
Policymakers in Beijing have struggled to arrest the slide in China’s fortunes, with some analysts predicting growth of about 6.5% this year even if, as many expect, the authorities unveil fresh spending packages and cut interest rates again.
Despite a bounce in stocks and the oil price after better than expected exports last year, Chinese officials forecast more pain as demand falls for their goods
Other industrialised economies would find little to complain about if they enjoyed growth figures approaching those released on Tuesday, but in the Chinese context the data are cause for concern.
Having experienced double-digit growth for more than a decade – during which it replaced Japan as the world’s second-biggest economy – China is now going through a painful period of readjustment as growth inevitably slows.
Its structural transformation from an economy heavily reliant on industrial exports to a more service-oriented one was still in progress, the statistics bureau said in a statement.
It added that China was going through “a crucial period during which challenges need to be overcome and problems need to be resolved and the task of comprehensively deepening the reform is still heavy”.
China’s economic slowdown and global market jitters are being blamed for another weekly drop in the ANZ-Roy Morgan consumer confidence index
China’s uncertain handling of its transition has sent shockwaves around global markets. Shanghai stocks have plunged to 13-month lows despite a massive government rescue package. The central bank, meanwhile, has added to confusion by allowing the yuan to weaken sharply, then intervening to stop the fall.
Intervention has done little to ease investor unrest. Despite six interest rate cuts since November 2014, and reductions in the amount of cash that banks must hold as reserves, high debt levels in the Chinese economy mean the measures have had limited impact.
Analysts predicted more instability for the global economy for the rest of the year. “Regardless of whether Q4 growth was 6.8% or 6.9%, we do not expect full-year GDP to change the evolving narrative about the weak state of global demand,” analysts at PRC Macro Advisors said.
翻译：邓小雪 & 颜琪琳
校对：朱宵芸 & 鲁城华
1.Jitter：panic or extreme nervousness；紧张不安
e.g. I always get the jitters before I go on stage. 我登台前总是感到紧张
2. Imminent：happening very soon; 逼近的
e.g. If he was not in imminent danger, they would not take this sort of action. 如果不是因为他随时会有生命危险，他们是不会采取这种行动的。
3. Ponzi scheme：
an investment swindle in which some early investors are paid off with money put up by later ones in order to encourage more and later ones
4.Tumult：a state of noisy confusion or disorder; 骚乱
e.g. Our voices are drowned out in the general tumult and clamor. 我们的声音被淹没在大众的吵闹和喧哗中。
5. Nudge：to push (sth.) gently; 微移
e.g. Beijing has plenty of good reasons to nudge manufacturing wages higher. 中国有很多理由要求提高制造业工资水平。