Published:  12:48 AM, 12 January 2018

Chinese economy grew 'around 6.9%' in 2017

Chinese economy grew 'around 6.9%' in 2017 Cambodian prime minister Hun Sen (L) and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang (C) walk past the honour guard at the Peace Palace in Phnom Penh on 11 January, 2018. -AFP

China's premier expects economic growth of around 6.9 percent for 2017, as he saw a "better than expected" outlook for the world's second-largest economy, state media said Thursday. The authorities will release official gross domestic product figures next week but Premier Li Keqiang has given his own forecast.

"Over the past year, the Chinese economy has been on a stable and favourable development path, with its overall circumstances better than expected," Li said in a speech Wednesday at a diplomatic summit in Cambodia, according to the official Xinhua news agency. The Chinese economy grew 6.7 percent in 2016 its slowest pace for more than a quarter of a century.

But the country experienced a rebound in the first half of 2017, posting 6.9 percent growth over that period, as well as an increase of 6.8 percent in the third quarter, thanks to soaring credit and investments in infrastructure. In an effort to stem winter air pollution, authorities in recent months have conducted a massive campaign to shut down polluting factories and slash excess industrial capacity, particularly in the north.

According to analysts, the aggressive campaign might have stalled growth in the fourth quarter, due to the slowdown in industrial production. But Li said: "The annual gross domestic product is expected to grow by around 6.9 percent."

His figure is slightly better than the 6.8 percent forecast by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, a top state think tank. "The crux of why the Chinese economy was able to perform so well is that we insisted on not implementing a flood of stimuli" and instead sought to foster "new sources of growth", he said.

-AFP, Beijing

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