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Asia Minute: China’s growth slows sharply and surprises economists

China Beijing Stock Exchange
Andy Wong/AP
A man wearing a face mask looks back as workers install the nameplate of the Beijing Stock Exchange on Financial Street in Beijing, Sunday, Nov. 14, 2021. (AP Photo/Andy Wong)

China’s economy is still growing, but more slowly than expected. That’s according to the latest government figures from the Beijing government.

The central government says the economy barely grew at all in the second quarter — eking out a gain of just 0.4%.

That’s the slowest rate since the shock of the early days of the pandemic — when the economy shrank by nearly 7% in the first quarter of 2020.

Economists were expecting growth of 1.2% in the latest quarter.

Shanghai was virtually locked down for two months in the second quarter — and the cost of the government’s “zero-COVID” policy has also weighed on other cities.

That policy has hit broad sections of the national economy — from industrial production to retail sales and unemployment.

Among young people, unemployment is now above 19%.

Markets are now focused on what comes next: and whether China’s central government will boost its fiscal spending to spur growth.

For the moment, China’s government appears to be taking the approach that the economic news could have been even worse.

A spokesman for the National Bureau of Statistics said Friday morning that China’s “economy has overcome the adverse impact of unexpected factors, demonstrating the momentum of a stable recovery.”

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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