China’s economy grew 18.3% in the first quarter of 2021, according to data released Friday by the country’s National Bureau of Statistics, the largest quarterly growth figure since China began keeping records in 1992 and an indication China’s robust recovery is continuing.
- China’s growth last quarter—driven by a strong rebound in the retail sector and strong growth in industrial production—was significantly higher than its 6.5% year-over-year growth in the final three months of 2020.
- That 18.3% quarterly growth figure is attributable in part to the massive slump in the first quarter of 2020, when China was in lockdown and the economy contracted 6.8%.
- It’s also slightly lower than expected: Analysts polled by Reuters predicted 19% growth.
The economy grew 10.3% in the first quarter of this year over the first quarter of 2019, when economic conditions were more normal.
China was the only major economy that saw growth in 2020. It’s economy grew 2.3% over the course of the year—despite the enormous losses in the first quarter—thanks in part to a stringent national lockdown that helped curb the spread of the virus early on. The United States’ economy contracted 3.5% in 2020 and dropped at a 5% annual rate in the first quarter of that year.
Analysts at HSBC in Hong Kong expect that China’s year-over-year growth in the first three months of 2021 was actually 5.4% after stripping out the statistical distortions caused by the slump at the beginning of last year, according to the Wall Street Journal. That’s lower than the Chinese government’s target of over 6.0%.
7.8%. That’s how much the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development expects China to grow in all of 2021, according to its most recent economic outlook. It expects the United States’ economy to grow 6.5%.
“The national economy made a good start,” the National Bureau of Statistics said in its release, but it also acknowledged the ongoing risk posed by the coronavirus pandemic. “We must be aware that the COVID-19 epidemic is still spreading globally and the international landscape is complicated with high uncertainties and instabilities,” it said.