China’s economy grew 6.9 percent in 2015, official data showed Tuesday, slumping to its lowest annual expansion rate in a quarter of a century.

The performance of China, the world’s second-largest economy, is a crucial concern for global investors, and its fourth-quarter growth also slowed to 6.8 percent, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said, its weakest since the global financial crisis.

Both figures matched the median forecasts in an AFP survey of 18 economists.

china exports
Photo: HKFP.

China’s leaders are looking to transform the country’s economic model away from one driven by investment and exports in the past and more oriented towards consumer demand.

The structural transformation was still under way, the NBS said in a statement, adding it was “a crucial period during which challenges need to be overcome and problems need to be resolved and the task of comprehensively deepening the reform is still heavy”.

The 2015 figure was well below the 7.3 percent growth recorded in 2014.

China’s services sector accounted for 50.5 percent of GDP in 2015, the official Xinhua news agency cited the NBS as saying, the first time it was more than half the economy.

China’s industrial production, which measures output at factories, workshops and mines in the world’s second-largest economy, rose 5.9 percent year-on-year in December, the NBS said, down from 6.2 percent in November.

Sanlitun, Beijing
Sanlitun, Beijing. Photo: Wikicommons.

Retail sales, a key indicator of consumer spending, increased 11.1 percent year-on-year in December, while fixed asset investment, a measure of spending on infrastructure, expanded 10.0 percent in the year.

Those results fell short of economists’ expectations, according to a survey by Bloomberg News, which predicted a year-on-year increase in retail sales of 11.3 percent, while industrial production was projected to expand 6.0 percent.

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