BEIJING — With 2018 coming to an end, China’s economic activity has maintained steady expansion against the backdrop of downward pressures, making its full-year growth target fully attainable.
The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) on Dec 14 unveiled a string of economic indicators showing a pick-up in investment, stable consumer spending, and mildly slowing industrial output.
Fixed-asset investment (FAI), a major growth driver, expanded 5.9 percent year-on-year in the first 11 months, picking up pace for the third straight month from the bottom in August and exceeding market expectations.
Retail sales of consumer goods posted a solid increase of 8.1 percent in November in part driven by robust online shopping.
The growth of value-added industrial output moderated to 5.4 percent last month from the 5.9-percent rise recorded in October.
“Those major economic indicators, in general, remained relatively stable,” NBS spokesperson Mao Shengyong told a press conference, noting the economy performed within a reasonable range despite weakening global growth momentum.
Mao also cited considerable job creation, tame consumer and factory-gate inflation, and brisk foreign trade.
The data on Dec 14 showed bright spots in the Chinese economy steering toward a high-quality path.
High-tech manufacturing and equipment production sectors maintained fast expansion, with their output increasing 11.8 percent and 8.3 percent respectively last month.
Private investment, accounting for more than 60 percent of the total FAI, expanded by a brisk 8.7 percent. Funds directed into weak economic links registered rapid increases — 42 percent for investment in environmental protection and 12.5 percent for investment in agriculture.
Online goods sales continued to boom and played a bigger role in bolstering growth.
Given the encouraging trend, “there is no doubt that China will fulfill this year’s growth target of around 6.5-percent,” Mao said, adding that the economy will have a sound foundation in 2019.
There will be sufficient favorable conditions for the economy in the next year, analysts said, citing the untapped potential of Chinese consumers.
With the enormous domestic market and the world’s largest middle-income group, China still has room to improve its consumption, Mao said. “Pro-consumption policies rolled out this year, such as the higher personal income tax threshold, will help expand household spending.”
Next year, the country will keep economic growth at a reasonable level, further stabilize employment, the financial market, foreign trade, foreign investment, domestic investment and expectations, according to a statement issued on Dec 13 after a meeting of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee.
Commenting on the statement, Lian Ping, chief economist of the Bank of Communications, said the country’s economy would maintain a medium-high level of growth next year.
Lian expected the country to maintain the proactive fiscal policy and prudent monetary policy next year, and moderately raise its budget deficit ratio.
To stabilize growth, the country may focus on improving weak links in infrastructure next year, when the growth of infrastructure investment is expected to rebound significantly, Lian said.
Xu Hongcai, an economist at the China Center for International Economic Exchanges, said as the country vows to pursue progress while ensuring stability, efforts will be made to strike a balance between the two — to push forward reforms while keeping economic growth within a reasonable range in 2019.