Industrial output continues at brisk pace, climbing year-on-year
China's economic growth beat forecasts to reach 6.9 percent year-on-year in 2017, marking the first acceleration since 2010 despite financial regulatory tightening and measures against pollution that affect growth.
Analysts said as growth stabilizes, the country will strengthen regulations and reforms to pursue high-quality development.
GDP growth in the fourth quarter was 6.8 percent, leading to the 6.9 percent overall annual growth, which was higher than the preset growth target of around 6.5 percent for 2017, according to data released by the National Bureau of Statistics on Thursday.
It was 6.7 percent in 2016, which was the slowest in 26 years.
"The national economy has maintained the momentum of stable and sound development and exceeded the expectation with the economic vitality, impetus and potential released," Ning Jizhe, head of the NBS, said in a news conference.
The rebounding growth was mainly built on still-brisk industrial output, real estate investment and export growth. The country registered 6.6 percent industrial output growth last year, compared with 6 percent in 2016. Real estate investment growth picked up to 7 percent from 6.9 percent in 2016. And export growth reached 10.8 percent last year, compared with a 2 percent decline in 2016.
Meanwhile, the country's fixed-asset investment grew by 7.2 percent and retail sales rose by 10.2 percent down from 8.1 percent for fixed assets and 10.4 percent for retail in 2016.
"Despite the supply-side structure reform (which leads to production capacity reduction), environmental protection measures (which cause factory closure and affect production) and rising financing costs (as a result of financial regulatory tightening), China's economy still rebounded which indicates that the current real economy is quite resilient," said Liu Dongliang, a senior analyst of the China Merchants Bank.
While growth accelerated in 2017, the quality of that growth has also improved. The country's per capita income, for example, increased by 7.3 percent year-on-year in real terms, higher than the national GDP growth. The supply-side structural reform has raised industrial production efficiency measured by the capacity utility ratio, the NBS said. And high-tech industries have grown at a faster pace than overall industry growth.
China's top leadership vowed to pursue high-quality development at the 19th CPC National Congress last year. To that end, China will tolerate a moderately lower growth rate this year to focus on reform and financial regulation, Liu said. "It will continue to control shadow banking, cut corporate debt levels and tighten financing of local governments."