China's economy grows 18.3% in post-Covid comeback
16 April 2021
China's economy grew a record 18.3% in the first quarter of 2021 compared to the same quarter last year.
It's the biggest jump in gross domestic product (GDP) since China started keeping quarterly records in 1992.
However, Friday's figures are below expectations, with a Reuters poll of economists predicting 19% growth.
They are also heavily skewed, and less indicative of strong growth, as they are compared to last year's huge economic contraction.
As a baseline, they use the first quarter of 2020, when China's economy shrank 6.8% due to nationwide lockdowns at the peak of its Covid-19 outbreak.
Other key figures released by China's statistics department also point to a continuing rebound, but are also unusually strong because they are compared against extremely weak numbers from last year.
Industrial output for March rose 14.1% over a year ago, while retail sales grew 34.2%.
China's rebound has largely been led by export strength as factories raced to fill overseas orders.
Some analysts have suggested that domestic consumption, while also improving, has been more subdued and continues to lag.
"The government had been struggling to raise personal consumption as a percentage of GDP even before the pandemic and the challenge has become even greater now," said Peter McGuire from the trading platform
The figures nevertheless suggest China has continued to gain economic momentum, after posting 6.5% economic growth in the last quarter of 2020.
Helped by strict virus containment measures and emergency relief for businesses, the economy has recovered steadily since the pandemic hit.
Despite a calamitous start to the year, China was the only major economy to register growth in 2020.
Nevertheless, the world's second largest economy only managed 2.3% growth, its weakest result in decades.
China has set an economic growth target of 6% for 2021, after scrapping its target last year.
Last Updated: 16 April 2021
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