China was likely the world’s only major economy to expand last year even though it was the first to suffer from the coronavirus pandemic, new data show.
China’s gross domestic product — the value of all goods and services produced there — grew by 2.3 per cent in 2020 as consumers and businesses gradually recovered from the COVID-19 lockdowns that took hold early in the year, the Chinese National Bureau of Statistics said on Monday.
The growth means that China’s GDP tops 100 trillion yuan (AUD$20 trillion) for the first time.
That growth was better than the 1.8 per cent expansion projected for China by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, which expects the US and every other major economy to post annual declines in their respective GDPs.
Economic activity in China plummeted 6.8 per cent in the first three months of 2020 as the Communist Party imposed sweeping restrictions aimed at containing the new coronavirus, which first appeared in the city of Wuhan.
But the recovery ramped up throughout the rest of the year as the virus abated in China and consumers returned to malls, movie theatres and restaurants. GDP rose by 3.2 per cent in the second quarter, 4.9 per cent in the third quarter and 6.5 per cent in the final three months of the year, Chinese officials said.
“The national economy recovered steadily, employment and living standards were ensured forcefully, and the main goals and tasks of economic and social development were accomplished better than expectation,” the statistics bureau said in a news release.
However, 2019’s growth was the weakest China had recorded in decades, coming in below the 3.9 per cent seen in 1990 in the wake of the government’s 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy demonstrators in Tiananmen Square, an infamous event that led to the country’s international isolation.
President-elect Joe Biden may also continue some of the aggressive trade policies implemented under President Trump, such as higher tariffs on Chinese goods.
“It is too early to conclude that this is a full recovery,” Iris Pang, ING’s chief economist for Greater China, said in a commentary. “External demand has not yet fully recovered. This is a big hurdle for a full recovery of China’s industrial production, especially for smaller manufacturers.”
This article originally appeared on the New York Post and is reproduced here with permission