News Analysis: China finds new engines as economy slows down

2015-10-20 18:23

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As new drivers for China's economic growth take hold, the economy is heading in the right direction. China's GDP growth dropped to a six-year low of 6.9 percent in the third quarter, slightly lower than 7 percent for previous two quarters, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) announced on Monday.

The slowdown came along with some other disappointing figures.

Industrial production was lower than expected, with September growth at a six-month low.

Fixed-asset investment continued to slow and power use was also weak.

However, it is too soon to draw a pessimistic conclusion about the economy, as new sectors and new engines are playing more important roles in economic growth. Sales of consumer goods expanded at the fastest pace so far this year in September.

Final consumption contributed to 58.4 percent of GDP growth in the first three quarters amid government efforts to steer away from over-reliance on investment and export. NBS spokesman Sheng Laiyun said the tug-of-war between economic growth and downward pressure has reached a new equilibrium.

China's economy is strongly sustained by the country's industrialization and urbanization drives, as well as a better consumption structure, according to Sheng.

As residential income rises, Chinese people hope to live better lives, so the demand for education, tourism and health care and other products will be on a constant rise, he said. The service sector's role in the economy was also strengthened.

Service output grew 8.4 percent year on year in the first three quarters, taking up 51.4 percent of the GDP, up 2.3 percentage points from the same period last year. The positive change in China's economic structure was also reflected by different rates of power consumption.

Electricity used by the service sector rose 7.3 percent in the first nine months, while that for the power-consuming industrial sector dropped 1 percent from a year earlier. Optimizing the economic structure is going to lay a solid foundation for sustainable growth, said Wang Bao'an, head of the NBS.

"China's economic development is adjusting to the new normal and experiencing growing pains, shifting from old drivers of growth to new ones," President Xi Jinping said in a written interview with Reuters Sunday.

The IT, urbanization and agricultural sectors are industrializing at top speed, generating strong domestic demand and great potential for future growth, Xi said. New impetus has also come from the government's emphasis on mass entrepreneurship and innovation. Measures to streamline administration and simplify business registration have resulted in a surge in new businesses.

In the first nine months, 3.16 million new companies were registered in China, up by 19.3 percent year on year.

In the same period, the high-tech sector reported 10.4 percent growth in value-added output, 4.2 percentage points higher than the figure for the overall industrial output. Mass entrepreneurship and innovation are becoming a new growth engine, and the central government will continue to support such activities, Premier Li Keqiang said Monday.

Innovation and entrepreneurship could generate more jobs, inspire creativity, promote structural readjustment and facilitate a medium-to-high growth of the economy, Li said.

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