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China’s economy grew at its slowest pace since 1999 last year, but it seems to have avoided a sharp economic slowdown – or “hard landing”.
The economy regained speed in the final three months of the year as spending on infrastructure went up and there was a jump in trade.
The Beijing government is trying to ensure stable growth, which it says is vital for economic reform.
With GDP expanding by 7.8 percent it was the slowest 12 months of economic growth in 13 years, but the full-year growth was comfortably ahead of the government’s own 7.5 percent target.
With a reference to recent environmental problems, the head of the statistics bureau Ma Jiantang talked about “China’s economic rise being too big”. He said with people focused on the environment as part of a desire for a better life, the country could not keep on consuming resources as it has done to sustain high rates of economic growth.
China’s new leaders need to generate enough growth to keep employment high while avoiding a surge in housing prices and inflation.
They say they also want to rebalance the economy towards consumption and away from the investment and export model.
The problem is some Chinese are consuming a lot, while others have little disposable income.
The statistics bureau did admit that the country’s wealth gap was “relatively large”.