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China: Economy Grew in 2001

China says its economy grew an estimated 7.3 percent in 2001, compared with last year. But year to year growth was slower than 2000. Chinese newspapers Monday quote Zhu Zhixin, chairman of China's State Statistics Bureau, as saying that gross domestic product in 2001 totaled an estimated $1.2 trillion. That was up 7.3 percent over last year.

Ma Jun, head of Greater China Economic Research at Deutsche Bank in Hong Kong, says China's estimated growth rate this year is down from last year's rate of eight percent, and lower than some had forecast. "Internally, there were lots of different government agencies expecting GDP to grow at a higher rate at the beginning of the year," he says. "I think the market consensus, including various government estimates, was around 7.7 percent at the beginning of the year. So 7.3 percent is slightly lower than the expectations."

Final GDP figures will not be available until early in the new year, but Mr. Ma says the government's estimated growth rate is largely in line with private economic forecasts. Still, he says growth in the fourth quarter probably slowed to below seven percent.

Most analysts say China needs to maintain a growth rate of seven percent to absorb millions of workers laid off by state-owned enterprises undergoing market reforms.

Chinese state media say the government's decision to pump money into large infrastructure projects helped maintain growth, despite the slowing world economy. Newspapers say China will continue to stimulate domestic demand next year with its fiscal policies.