China’s economy grew 18.3 percent in the first quarter of this year compared to 2020, when the country that made the world sick with Covid was the fastest to rebound from the pandemic.
The number was slightly lower than forecast, some of which forecast growth of over 20 percent, but it still represents the largest increase in GDP since Beijing began keeping records in 1992.
This means that China’s economic recovery continues to gain momentum after being virtually the only major economy ever to grow in 2020 as other world leaders have been crippled by the effects of repeated lockdowns.
China’s economy grew 18.3 percent in the first quarter of this year compared to the first quarter of 2020, new figures from Beijing this morning showed
China was the only major global economy growing in 2020 while others were crippled by the effects of Covid lockdowns
Analysts warn that the growth reported today is not quite as impressive as it initially seems, and benefit from a comparison with the same quarter last year when the country was at the height of its own lockdowns – a so-called “low base” . cause.
The numbers were also boosted by high government spending, but they will still be the envy of most other world leaders struggling to get their countries back in the black.
Economists in Germany warned yesterday that their economy – Europe’s largest – likely shrank 1.8 percent in the first quarter of this year due to a partial lockdown.
Analysts expect the UK economy to shrink by around 2 percent as well, while Japan and India are unlikely to see growth until later in the year.
With estimates of around 8 percent, the US economy is one of the few whose growth is forecast in the first quarter – that’s still half of the Chinese boom.
Detailed data released Friday by the Chinese Bureau of Statistics showed that retail sales rose in March and growth rose to 33.9 percent in the first quarter as lifespan largely normalized.
Industrial production rose less than an estimated 24.5 percent for the quarter.
The numbers come days after officials announced that exports – and imports in particular – skyrocketed in March.
Spokeswoman Liu Aihua highlighted the contrast between China’s growth and the rest of the world economy, warning that the international landscape still contains “high levels of uncertainty”.
As vaccines roll out around the world, the distribution is uneven and an increase in infections is forcing governments to reintroduce containment measures, slowing recovery.
The unemployment rate in cities, which analysts have closely observed, fell slightly to 5.3 percent.
China is back on track for growth, even if the rest of the world economy remains in ruins due to lockdowns designed to prevent the spread of Covid (file).
However, economists assume that the growth drivers could change in the coming months and have so far been warning of an “uneven” recovery.
“Industrial production took the lead in the recovery last year and is now looking a bit tired,” said UOB economist Ho Woei Chen.
“With retail sales outperforming and the labor market recovering, private consumption is expected to pick up,” she told AFP, adding that it should take the lead in growth later in the year.
However, Louis Kuijs, head of Asian economics at Oxford Economics, warned that “a full recovery in household spending depends on a convincing vaccination and further improvements in labor market conditions”.
Beijing has worked to reposition its economy from a coal-fired manufacturing base to one powered by high-tech green energy and domestic consumption.
However, the country’s strong post-pandemic recovery was fueled by coal, with a number of new plans approved. Environmentalists fear that this could stem the shift towards greener policies.
In a Thursday report by analyst TransitionZero, China must “cancel all new coal immediately and indefinitely,” and convert almost all of its coal fleet by 2040 to meet the zero-emission target.
The economic data comes from talks held by US climate commissioner John Kerry in Shanghai and ahead of a Franco-German virtual climate summit on Friday, which President Xi Jinping will attend.
China became the first country in the world to respond on a large scale to Covid after the disease emerged in Wuhan in late 2019. Strict blocking measures were taken and the borders were closed.
While China has managed to cut its own Covid cases close to zero and reopen its economy, there are still growing cases in the rest of the world (pictured is a hospital in India).
While major doubts have been expressed about Chinese data, particularly in the early stages of the pandemic, it is widely believed that these measures have brought cases down to near zero at the current time.
As a result, China has been able to reopen its economy faster than other nations in the world – many of which are still crippled by repeated lockdowns when cases increase.
Demand for Chinese goods, especially mass-produced PPE and vaccines, has also helped fuel the economic recovery.
As a result, China posted economic growth of 2.3 for all of 2020, making it the only major global economy to have grown at all that year.
It is widely believed that Covid originated in the city of Wuhan, Hubei province some time before or shortly before December 2019 – although a WHO study of its origins failed to pinpoint exactly how it first passed into humans.
Scientists believe the original host animal, likely a bat, passed the virus on to a second animal that is more likely to come into contact with humans. This is where the “spillover event” took place.
This event could have taken place at the Huanan Seafood Market in Wuhan, the researchers said, where a group of early cases took place – although some had no links to the market, meaning a link cannot be definitively established.
Researchers have dismissed a theory that the virus leaked from a coronavirus research laboratory in Wuhan that has been conducting controversial research into the diseases, saying it was “very unlikely”.
However, their conclusions have proven controversial. Critics said they relied too much on data given to them by Beijing.
Even Tedros Ghebreyesus, WHO director, has called for further research into laboratory leak theory, stating that it is too early to rule it out for good.