News / Asia

    Chinese Economy Slows in First Quarter

    Laborers work at a construction site in Beijing, April 16, 2014.
    Laborers work at a construction site in Beijing, April 16, 2014.
    Chinese officials said economic growth for the world's second largest economy slowed in the first quarter of this year. Economists are warning that the downward trend could continue as China seeks to transform its economy with market-based reforms.
     
    China's National Bureau of Statistics said economic growth in China during the first quarter slipped to its slowest pace in 18 months.
     
    Bureau spokesman Sheng Laiyun said the growth rate of 7.4 percent is a reflection of China's efforts to transform its economic model. He said the figures were still within the range the government expects, and that there are already signs of progress in the government's efforts to reform the economy.
     
    Sheng added, however, that "at the same time the complexities of the global economy continue to put downward pressure on the Chinese economy." He said that, "looking forward, persistent efforts are needed to oversee the rollout and implementation of government policies."
     
    Some economists saw reason for optimism in the figures released Tuesday, noting that industrial production picked up in March and that retail sales were slightly better than expected for the first quarter.
     
    Others predict the slowing of the Chinese economy will continue.
     
    Andrew Batson of GK Dragonomics in Beijing said seasonal factors can make first quarter growth seem to be especially weak and that the economy may pick up from its current pace. But, more broadly, he says, it's likely the government will not reach its goal of 7.5 percent for this year.
     
    "Growth is going to slow this year pretty much regardless of what the government does. If they can avoid that growth slow down turning into a negative spiral and keep spirits high in the private sector companies, then I don't think the growth slowdown is disastrous," said Baston. "But, it depends on their ability to deliver politically."
     
    Late last year, China unveiled sweeping reforms aimed at letting the market have more sway in the economy, but some economists say their rollout is taking too long.
     
    The changes are hoped to make the economy more efficient by opening up more sectors to competition from private and foreign enterprises.
     
    Song Hong, an economist at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences said China's economy still has huge potential, but government measures to address problems such as local government debt, graft and the country's red-hot property market have had a dampening effect on the economy.
     
    Song said that, "from the time that the new government stepped into office it has taken a more cautious approach to the economy as it has taken steps to avoid the problems of the past such as corruption and inefficiencies." He said, "the government has yet to fully utilize some of the potential of the Chinese economy of more opportunities for development."
     
    Song said that could come in the form of investment in public infrastructure projects, the loosening of credit and a wide range of restrictions including those on the purchase of homes.
     
    The Chinese government has already announced some measures to boost growth such as investment in railway projects and tax cuts for small firms. They are also speeding up efforts to improve slum areas known as shantytowns, where tens of millions of poor Chinese live.
     
    However, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said China will not use any major short-term stimulus measures to fight short-term dips in the country's economic growth.

    You May Like

    In Britain, The Sun Still Doesn’t Shine

    Invoking Spitfires and Merlin, Leave voters insist country can be great again, following surprising 'Brexit' vote last week

    Double Wave of Suicide Bombings Puts Lebanon, Refugees on Edge

    Following suicide bombings in Christian town of Al-Qaa, on Lebanon's northeast border with Syria, fears of further bombings have risen

    US Senators Warned on Zika After Failing to Pass Funding

    Zika threats and challenges, as well as issues of contraception and vaccines, spelled out as lawmakers point fingers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeasti
    X
    June 29, 2016 6:15 PM
    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.
    Video

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora