China’s economy accelerates as virus recovery gains strength

BEIJING (AP) — China’s shaky economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic is gaining strength as consumers return to shopping malls and auto dealerships while the United States (US) and Europe endure painful contractions.

The world’s second-largest economy expanded by 4.9 per cent over a year ago in the three months ending in September, official data showed yesterday. Retail spending rebounded to above pre-virus levels for the first time and factory output rose, boosted by demand for exports of masks and other medical supplies.

The recovery is broadening out and becoming less reliant on government stimulus, Julian Evans-Pritchard of Capital Economics said in a report. He said growth is “still accelerating” heading into the present quarter.

China, where the pandemic began in December, became the first major economy to return to growth after the ruling Communist Party declared the disease under control in March and began re-opening factories, shops and offices.

It is the only major economy that is expected to grow this year while activity in the US, Europe and Japan shrinks.

The Chinese economy expanded by 3.2 per cent over a year earlier in the three months ending in June, rebounding from the previous quarter’s 6.8 per cent contraction, its worst performance since at least the mid-1960s.

The economy “continued the steady recovery”, the National Bureau of Statistics said in a report. However, it warned, “the international environment is still complicated and severe.”

Industrial production rose 5.8 per cent over the same quarter last year, a marked improvement over the first half’s 1.3 per cent contraction. Chinese exporters are taking market share from foreign competitors that still are hampered by anti-virus controls.

Shoppers walk through the capital city’s popular shopping mall in Beijing. PHOTO: AP