In the first seven months of 2018, China’s national economic performance continued to be stable with sound momentum. Despite severe challenges and complex environment both at home and abroad, China’s economy is making progress in transformation and upgrading, new impetus for the economy is increasing, the quality and efficiency of development continue to improve.
Generally speaking, China’s national economy in the first half of the year (H1) has been running soundly within a reasonable range. The gross domestic product (GDP) expanded 6.8% year on year in H1（6.8% in first quarter，6.7% in second quarter, representing 12th straight quarter that the GDP rate has stayed within the range from 6.7% to 6.9%, well above the government’s annual growth target of around 6.5%. Total power consumption hits 3.88 trillion kilowatt hours from January to July, rose 9% year-on-year. In July，the manufacturing purchasing manager’s index(PMI) stood at 51.2, remained above the 50-point mark that separates growth from contraction for a 24th straight month.
The consumption demands continue to upgrade. From January to July, the total retail sales of consumer goods expanded 9.3% year-on-year to reach 21.07 trillion yuan, online retail sales reached 4,786.3 billion yuan, up by 29.3% year on year. Consumer spending on tourism, health, education and cultural consumption grew significantly. The sales of upgraded consumer goods also witnessed fast growth.
The industrial production was stable and new drivers in the economy are further improving. From January to July, industrial output expanded 6% year-on-year; the value added of high-tech manufacturing, equipment manufacturing and strategic emerging industry grew by 11.6%, 9.0% and 8.6% year on year respectively; the production of new energy vehicles, industrial robots, and integrated circuits grew by 68.6%, 21.0% and 14.5% year-on-year. The total profits registered by industrial enterprises above the designated size was 3, 388.2 billion yuan, up by 17.2% year on year. Information transmission, software and information technology services, leasing and business service industry maintained rapid growth during the period.
Employment remained stable. The newly employed people in urban areas numbered 8.80 million, 2,500 thousand more than the same period last year, fulfilling 80% of the annual target. The survey-based urban unemployment rate stood at 5.1% in July. Surveyed unemployed rate of major labour force aged from 25 to 59 was 4.4%, which was the same as June and continuously kept a relatively low level.
Foreign trade showed strong resilience with robust imports and stable exports, showing China has stood up to the impact from the trade friction with the US. In the first seven months, the total value of import and export was 16.72 trillion yuan, increased 8.6%. The total value of export was 8,894.4 billion yuan, up by 5.0%, and the total value of import was 7,826.4 billion yuan, up by 12.9%. Trade balance was 1.07 trillion yuan in surplus, decreased by 30.6%. China’s foreign trade with BRICS countries and countries along the Belt and Road increased 12.4% and 11.3% respectively.
Despite the fact that the external uncertainties increased and China’s structural adjustment is going through a critical stage. China’s economy remained resilient in the first seven months of the year as indicators were solid and the pace of structural transformation picked up. At the same time, reform has been injecting new impetus into economic growth. In the future, China will stick to supply-side structural reform, keep pursuing high-quality development with improved economic quality and efficiency, and coordinate efforts to ensure a stable and sound economic performance.
*Chao Xiaoliang is the Consul General of China in Lagos