Growth signs are optimistic
Updated: 2012-10-19 13:13
For the world economy, caught between an unfolding eurozone debt crisis and a looming US fiscal cliff, that China's economy has slowed for a seventh straight quarter appears to be cause for concern.
Yet the world's second largest economy is actually offering reasons for some much-needed confidence that it can continue to drive the global economy, despite the fact that its 7.4-percent GDP growth in the third quarter from a year earlier represents the first time the official target has not been achieved since the first quarter of 2009.
Industrial output rose 9.2 percent year-on-year, while retail sales rose 14.2 percent in September. And early data showed that China's exports surged by 9.9 percent last month, to a record monthly high of $186.4 billion.
If the latter may be a passing blip amid the ongoing weakness of global demand, the former bears full testimony to China's growing domestic demand, which will be able to cushion its economy from external uncertainties.
Rising income levels, which increased by 9.8 percent in cities and 12.3 percent in rural areas in the first three quarters, have laid a solid foundation for domestic consumption having a bigger role in driving economic growth. However, far more importantly, other data indicate encouraging improvement in the quality of China's economic development in the long run.
For instance, the country managed to create 10.24 million new urban jobs in the first three quarters, already 14 percent higher than the official target for the whole year.
Admittedly, the lack of details prevents us from knowing the exact forces driving such increased hiring. If it is a result of the ongoing relocation of Chinese manufacturing companies from coastal areas to low-cost central and western regions, the faster-than-expected job growth represents considerable progress in the country's efforts to narrow its decades-old regional development gap.
Other key data, such as moderated inflation, stabilized housing prices, falling consumption of energy per unit of GDP and the increasing share of the service sector in the economy, all point to improvement in the structure and quality of China's economic growth.
If it can keep pressing ahead with the transformation of its economic growth model, China will contribute more to global growth than it did in the past decades of double-digit growth.
Doesn't that sound more optimistic than China is going to bottom out?