China’s economy slowed marginally in the third quarter but is well on course to beat the government’s annual target, cementing President Xi Jinping’s standing as he prepares to be handed a second term in power at a Communist Party conclave.
The world’s number two economy expanded 6.8% in July-September, but while the figures released yesterday were slightly down from the 6.9% of the previous two quarters they indicated stability after a years-long slowdown in growth.
“The national economy has maintained the momentum of stable and sound development in the first three quarters, with favourable factors accumulating for the economy to maintain medium-high rate of growth,” said National Statistics Bureau spokesman Xing Zhihong.
“However, we must be aware that international conditions remain complicated and volatile and the national economy is still at a crucial stage of restructuring with the foundation for sound development yet to be consolidated.”
While well off the breakneck rates of a decade ago, the reading was in line with a survey of analysts by AFP and put the economy well on course to eclipse the official target of about 6.5% for the whole year.
The readings come as Xi was set to secure another five-year term as the party’s general secretary at the highly choreographed week-long congress, which he is expected to use to surround himself with loyalists in leadership posts.
“Relatively strong economic performance this year offers a good opportunity for the government to address several long-term economic issues,” Raymond Yeung, chief Greater China economist at Australia & New Zealand Banking Group in Hong Kong, wrote in a recent report.
“Xi also needs to shift China’s economy from a credit-intensive, property-led growth model to one that supports sustainable growth,” he said, according to Bloomberg News.
Beijing has for years been trying to transition the economy from one reliant on exports and state investment to domestic consumption.
Brisk consumer spending and strong factory output fuelled economic growth in July-September, while retail sales rose 10.4% on-year during the first three quarters.