BEIJING — China recorded its slowest rate of growth in more than a quarter of a century in 2016, data showed on Friday, as the world’s number two economy faces increasing protectionist sentiment.
The Asian giant is a key engine of the global economy and its leaders are trying to reduce the country’s heavy reliance on exports and infrastructure investment to drive growth in favour of higher consumer spending.
But the transition has proved bumpy, with the crucial manufacturing sector struggling in the face of sagging global demand for China’s products and excess industrial capacity left over from an infrastructure boom.
Expansion in 2016 slowed to 6.7 per cent from the previous year’s 6.9 per cent pace, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).
Fourth-quarter growth, however, showed a slight acceleration to 6.8 per cent, they said.
"China’s economy was within a proper range with improved quality and efficiency. However, we should also be aware that the domestic and external conditions are still complicated and severe," the NBS said in a statement.
Figures released the same day showed industrial production rose 6 per cent year on year in December and the full year, while retail sales increased 10.9 per cent in the month and 10.4 per cent for 2016.
Fixed-asset investment, a gauge of infrastructure spending, expanded 8.1 per cent during the full year. — AFP