The figures, released Thursday by the National Statistics Bureau in Beijing, suggest that China may be on the path to economic recovery, following dramatic drops in growth since the beginning of the global financial crisis last year. China’s economy grew at nearly 13 percent as recently as late 2007, before sinking to 6.1 percent in the first quarter of 2009, the slowest pace in a decade.
“This is a stunning recovery,” Andy Rothman, an economist at the brokerage firm CLSA in Shanghai, told the New York Times. “And it’s also not just the government money fueling the recovery. The private sector is also recovering, and that’s the key.”
Analysts believe that China could be the first major country to emerge from the worst global financial slump in decades, and many are hopeful that the country’s growth will help propel other countries’ recoveries.
China’s stimulus, launched in late 2008, has focused more than $500 billion on boosting domestic consumption and infrastructure projects around the country. Strong car and property sales, in addition to aggressive bank lending, have also boosted growth.
The accuracy and reliability of China’s official statistics, however, is a perennial question. Some analysts have raised doubts that the country’s economy could rebound so impressively when other data seem to suggest continued economic troubles. Domestic electricity consumption, for example, appeared to decline in the first quarter of 2009, a period in which the economy still posted 6 percent growth.
The government “well understands that there are doubts in the markets about the reliability of China’s data,” Andrew Barber, Asia strategist for Research Edge, a New Haven, Conn.-based equity research firm, told Time magazine. “But unlike a year ago, they are actively trying to take baby steps toward more transparency.”