China's 2013 economic growth at 7.7%
BEIJING (Kyodo) -- China's economy grew 7.7 percent in 2013 from the previous year, exceeding the government's target of 7.5 percent, helped by stimulus measures focusing on infrastructure, official data showed Monday.
But the annual growth is equal to the actual year-on-year result for 2012, as the National Bureau of Statistics revised down the figure from 7.8 percent in September, and it is again the country's worst performance since 1999.
China's gross domestic product growth was below 8 percent for the second straight year and showed single-digit growth for three years in a row for the first time since 2002.
Last year's GDP amounted to 56.88 trillion yuan ($9.4 trillion), the statistics bureau said.
In the final quarter of 2013, China's year-on-year growth slowed down to 7.7 percent, down from 7.8 percent in the July-September period, the bureau said.
The Chinese leadership under President Xi Jinping, which is trying to rebalance the world's second-largest economy away from a heavy reliance on investment and exports toward domestic consumption, has factored in that slower growth is necessary for its sustainable development in the years ahead.
In 2013, as a result, the pace of China's investment in fixed assets, excluding rural households, slightly slowed down to 19.6 percent from 20.6 percent the previous year. Also, amid lingering concerns over China's excessive production, growth of industrial output was down to 9.7 percent from 10 percent in 2012.
"Last year, our economic performance was characterized as steady and good," despite facing complex and difficult macroeconomic challenges, thanks to the central government's sound policies and commitment to reforms, Ma Jiantang, head of the bureau, told a press conference.
Still, the data found that China's economy remains dependent on investment, particularly in real estate development, which in 2013 saw a nominal growth of 19.8 percent, up from 16.2 percent a year earlier.
Supported by a pickup in the global economy, the total value of China's exports remained steady, up 7.9 percent, but retail sales, seen as reflecting consumer spending trends, eased to 13.1 percent, compared with 14.3 percent in 2012, possibly affected by the Chinese leadership's drive to crack down on corruption and wasteful spending.
The Chinese government is expected to announce its GDP target for this year as early as in March, with some analysts expecting its full-year growth to be around 7.4 percent, which would be the slowest pace since 1990.
China's GDP growth is still far better than that of the United States, Japan and many other industrialized countries, but concerns are growing that its local debt problems and the widespread lending by nonfinancial institutions called "shadow banking" could become potential threats to the world economy.