China economy glances with 6.9% growth in 2017

(AFP): China’s economy has grown a forecast-beating 6.9 percent in 2017, picking up steam for the first time since 2010 despite its battles against a massive debt and polluting factories, official data showed Thursday.

The world’s number two economy eclipsed the official target of about 6.5 percent and picked up pace from the 6.7 percent growth seen in 2016, which was the slowest for more than a quarter of a century.

National Statistics Bureau head Ning Jizhe said in a report, “The national economy has maintained the momentum of stable and sound development and exceeded the expectation with the economic vitality, impetus and potential released.”

Ning said, “We should also be aware that there are still difficulties and challenges confronting the economy and the improvement of quality and efficiency remains a daunting task.”

The robust economic expansion indicated stability after slowing down since China last posted double-digit growth in 2010.

Ning dismissed questions on the reliability of China’s statistics raised after the coastal city of Tianjin and the autonomous region of Inner Mongolia admitted to inflating certain 2016 data.

Having accuracy issues with their data, he said, “The system for calculating China’s statistics data is not affected by a small number of places, or some places, or some companies.”

The GDP reading follows strong trade data last week, which showed the purring global economy had propelled China’s export machine.

Chief China economist at Societe Generale, Wei Yao said said, “This momentum, especially the part fuelled by external demand, may carry on well into 2018.”

China has largely relied on debt fuelled investment and exports to drive its tremendous economic growth of the past four decades but it is now seeking to move its economy to more sustainable consumption-based growth.

China’s leaders appeared to wipe away some of those concerns at a critical planning meeting in December.

While vowing a crackdown on financial risk and local government debt, leaders called for a reasonable credit expansion this year. It flew in the face of IMF and other economists warnings that China must deleverage.

China’s trade surplus with the US swelled 10 percent to $275.8 billion last year, a record high.

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