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.
William Ide
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

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

Video Secret Service Chief Under Fire for White House Security Breach

Julia Pierson faces tough questions from lawmakers after recent intrusion at White House, says: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihadi
X
Mahi Ramakrishnan
September 30, 2014 2:16 PM
Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Iran's Rouhani Skeptical on Syria Strikes

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani expressed skepticism Friday that U.S.-led airstrikes in Iraq and Syria could crush Islamic State militants. From New York, VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports the president was also hopeful that questions about Iran’s nuclear program could be resolved soon.
Video

Video US House Speaker: Congress Should Debate Authorization Against IS

As wave after wave of U.S. airstrikes target Islamic State militants, the speaker of the Republican-controlled House of Representatives says he would be willing to call Congress back into session to debate a formal, broad authorization for the use of military force. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports from Washington, where legislators left town 10 days ago for a seven-week recess.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Video

Video Ebola Robs Liberians of Chance to Say Good-Bye to Loved Ones

In Liberia, where Ebola has killed more than 1,500 people, authorities have worked hard to convince people to allow specialized burial teams to take away dead bodies. But these safety measures, while necessary, make it hard for people to say good bye to their loved ones. VOA's Anne Look reports on the tragedy from Liberia.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid