China’s economy grew at the slowest pace in more than four decades last year despite a rebound after the country’s coronavirus outbreak, official data showed Monday.
The 2.3% expansion is the lowest figure since the Chinese economy embarked on major reforms in the 1970s.
The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said last year was a “grave and complex environment both at home and abroad” with the pandemic having a “huge impact”.
The figure was a marked slowdown from 2019 growth of 6.1% — itself already the lowest in decades — with the country hit by weak domestic demand and trade tensions.
But it is better than that forecast by an AFP poll of analysts from 13 financial institutions, who predicted a 2.0% expansion.
Covid-19, which has ravaged the world economy, first emerged in central China in late 2019. But the world’s second-largest economy also became the first to bounce back after imposing strict lockdowns and virus control measures.
It is expected to be the only major world economy clocking positive 2020 growth.
In the last three months of 2020, China’s economic rebound continued with a better-than-expected 6.5% growth on-year, a sustained improvement since the second quarter.
This brings it back to a pre-pandemic trajectory, although full-year 2020 growth is still its worst performance since 1976, when the economy shrank 1.6%.
That was two years before former leader Deng Xiaoping set in motion a shift away from communist-style central planning, turning China into an industrial, trade and tech powerhouse.