China's GDP was up 4.5 percent in the first quarter of 2023, the first year after the country adjusted its COVID-19 management policy. At a press conference on April 18, the National Bureau of Statistics said the economy made a good start.
Since bottoming out at 0.4 percent in the second quarter last year, the Chinese economy has been on an upswing and has now entered a period of steady growth. In the first quarter, retail sales of consumer goods, fixed assets investment as well as imports and exports of goods rose 5.8 percent, 5.1 percent and 4.8 percent, respectively, year on year.
The Chinese Government set the goal of around 5 percent for GDP growth for 2023 and this first-quarter performance indicates that goal is within reach.
First, domestic demand continues to expand. In the first quarter, retail sales of consumer goods rose after a decline of 2.7 percent in the fourth quarter last year. In addition, investment in infrastructure and manufacturing grew 8.8 percent and 7 percent, respectively. Consumption contributed 66.6 percent to GDP growth.
Second, the employment situation is improving. Directly correlating with economic performance, employment is essential to household incomes and spending potential. In the first quarter, the surveyed urban unemployment rate averaged 5.5 percent, down 0.1 percentage point over that of the previous quarter.
Third, new drivers of growth continue to grow. In the first quarter, investment in hi-tech industries grew 16 percent, higher than overall investment growth. The green industry expanded rapidly, with the output volumes of new-energy vehicles and photovoltaic cells increasing 22.5 percent and 53.2 percent, respectively.
Fourth, opening up is making solid progress. In the first two months, paid-in foreign investment to China rose 6.1 percent, and that in hi-tech industries surged 32 percent. In the first quarter, China's trade in goods with economies participating in the Belt and Road Initiative, proposed by China to boost connectivity along and beyond the ancient Silk Road routes, increased 16.8 percent year on year.
However, as the economic landscape at home and abroad will continue to be complex and volatile this year, sustained efforts will be needed to ensure China meets its annual targets.