China's economy grew at its slowest pace in at least a decade, in the first
quarter of 2009. However, Chinese authorities point to stronger industrial
activity in March as one sign the slump may be bottoming out.
third-largest economy grew by 6.1 percent in the first three months of this
year, compared to the same period last year. This number is down from 6.8
percent the previous quarter and represents China's lowest quarterly growth rate
in more than a decade.
National Bureau of Statistics spokesperson Li
Xiaochao told reporters the Chinese government's stimulus measures have produced
positive results and that the first quarter performance was better than
However, he says there are still many reasons to be cautious
about a speedy economic recovery.
Li says China's main economic
difficulty brought on by the global economic crisis has been a drop in exports,
which has eroded corporate profits, reduced government revenues and made it
harder to create jobs.
He says these are the key factors contributing to
pressure for an economic slowdown.
Many economists have said they believe
China's economic growth actually accelerated in the first quarter of this year,
as opposed to the last quarter of 2008. This change is not readily apparent
because China provides only year-on-year comparisons.
government's $580 billion stimulus program has been boosting investment to
counteract the fall in exports, which were down nearly 20 percent in the first
quarter of 2009 from a year ago.
China's economy relies heavily on
manufacturing, so another figure of note is industrial production, which grew by
8.3 percent in March, from the same period a year ago. This is up sharply from
a 3.8 percent gain in January and February.
China has set eight percent
as its minimum economic growth target for 2009.