China’s top economic planner says China’s economy continues to recover and improve in Q1

An aerial view of Shanghai. /CFP

An aerial view of Shanghai. /CFP

Officials from China’s top economic planner, the National Development and Reform Commission or the NDRC, said that since the beginning of this year, China’s economy has continued to recover and improve. Economic growth has remained stable and shown signs of improvement, structural adjustments have progressed steadily, and quality and efficiency have steadily increased. They’ve also stressed that people’s livelihoods have been effectively safeguarded, market expectations have generally improved, and a stable and promising start has been achieved for the first quarter.

First, from the perspective of macroeconomy, major indicators have accelerated. Official data from the NDRC shows that in the first quarter, China’s GDP grew by 5.3 percent year-on-year. Industrial added value increased by six percent, up 0.8 percentage points from the previous quarter; fixed asset investment increased by 4.5 percent, up 1.5 percentage points from the previous year; the total value of goods imports and exports denominated in RMB increased by 5 percent, with exports up by 4.9 percent, an increase of 4.1 percentage points from the previous quarter.

Second, regional economies have stabilized and improved. According to officials, provinces with strong economies in the eastern regions such as Guangdong, Jiangsu, Shandong, and Zhejiang continue to play a leading role. The economic growth of key regions such as the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region, the Yangtze River Delta, and the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area has been relatively fast. Industries in the central and western regions have accelerated their transformation and upgrading, with high-tech manufacturing industries in Anhui and Hubei provinces growing by 23.4 percent and 21.5 percent respectively, and high-tech industry investment in Sichuan province growing by 17.7 percent, all significantly faster than the national average. Major projects in the northeastern region are also accelerating.

Third, from the perspective of industries and enterprises, operating efficiency and confidence have steadily improved during the first quarter. Official data shows that the total profits of industrial enterprises above the designated size increased by 4.3 percent year-on-year in the first quarter. The Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) for manufacturing in April was 50.4 percent, above the boom-bust line for two consecutive months. New products and formats are flourishing, with the production of 3D printing equipment, service robots, and new energy vehicles growing by 40.6 percent, 26.7 percent, and 29.2 percent respectively in the first quarter. Online retail sales driven by instant retail and live streaming also grew.

Fourth, from the perspective of residents’ lives, employment and income have continued to improve. In the first quarter, more than three million new urban jobs were created, an increase of 60,000 compared to the same period last year; the urban surveyed unemployment rate in March was 5.2 percent, down 0.1 percentage point from the previous month and the same period last year. In the first quarter, China’s per capita disposable income of residents nationwide increased by 6.2 percent year-on-year, 0.9 percentage points faster than the economic growth, with urban and rural residents’ incomes rising by 5.3 percent and 7.7 percent respectively.

Officials from the NDRC also stressed that accelerating the construction of a unified national market is an inevitable requirement to facilitate domestic circulation and promote the establishment of a new development pattern. It is also an important lever to unleash domestic demand potential and promote sustained economic recovery and improvement. The NDRC and relevant parties have established and effectively utilized a coordination mechanism to promote the construction of a unified national market, which has been actively pushing forward various tasks, contributing positively to improving market conditions and social expectations.

As for the development of the new energy vehicles, officials point out that since the beginning of this year, China’s new energy vehicles have maintained a rapid development momentum, showing vigorous vitality in supply and demand. On one hand, China’s production and sales of new energy vehicles reached 2.115 million and 2.09 million units respectively, representing year-on-year increases of 28.2 percent and 31.8 percent respectively. On the other hand, product supply is becoming increasingly abundant. Both domestic and foreign companies have been leveraging their advantages in the new energy vehicle industry chain and supply chain, actively creating high-quality and reasonably priced products around consumer demand. Since the beginning of this year, more than 30 new energy vehicle models have been successively released or launched for sale. Officials say that the NDRC will work to promote industry innovation through technological innovation, better meet consumer demand and accelerate infrastructure construction to support the industry’s high-quality development.

Overall, a good start and a positive trend are currently the fundamental characteristics and trends of China’s economy. Officials say that positive factors are increasing for the first quarter, momentum continuously strengthening, social expectations improving, and high-quality development steadily advancing, laying a solid foundation for achieving the annual goals. Next, officials will effectively consolidate and enhance the positive trend of economic recovery, and complete the annual goals with high quality.