China's economy in 2018 grew at its weakest annual pace in almost three decades amidst a protracted trade war with the U.S., putting pressure on Beijing to reach a deal with Washington and to amp up stimulus measures in efforts to avert a sharper slowdown.
Births in China dropped to the lowest level in nearly 60 years in 2018, signalling the country's looser two-child policy has done little to reverse its slowing birth rate, and worsening the outlook for growth in the world's second-largest economy.
Residents perform making traditional brocade of the Tujia ethnic group at Wulingyuan scenic spot in Zhangjiajie, central China's Hunan Province, June 7, 2018, China's economy grew 6.6 percent year on year in 2018, above the official target of around 6.5 percent, data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showed Monday.
Gross domestic product rose 6.4 per cent in the fourth quarter from a year earlier, matching economists' estimates, and compared with 6.5 per cent in the previous three-month period. "China trade war escalates, should the temporary truce expire without any trade deal being struck", Rajiv Biswas of IHS Markit said in an email. The slowing growth, which comes amid falling demand for exports and slower domestic spending, has put pressure on authorities to resolve the trade dispute with the US.
This came in the meeting of U.S. President Donald Trump and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the G20 summit in the Argentinian capital.
China's workforce - those aged between 16 and 59 - was 897.3 million previous year, a 4.7 million drop from 2017, NBS data showed.
"China-US economic and trade frictions do indeed affect the economy, but the impact is generally controllable", said Ning.
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The US-based Conference Board, a widely respected global business think tank, said its methodology indicates growth of 4.1 per cent for 2018. Auto sales in the world's biggest vehicle market shrank for the first time since the 1990s.
Beijing's propaganda wizards say the economy's slow growth signifies the nation's transition from a debt-fuelled economy to one led by innovation and top officials have long branded slower growth the "new normal" for China's economy. Other Chinese analysts were more dower.
Meantime, a downturn in iPhone sales in China has hurt Apple Inc.'s share price this month and raised question marks over whether the consumer can keep cushioning the economy's re-balancing.
"China's labour participation rate is not considered low worldwide, more than 700 million of our 900 million people (of working age) are employed, and there is still room (for growth)", he said.
China's more than US$13 trillion economy will likely stabilise in the second half of 2019 without the need for aggressive stimulus, according to Goldman Sachs Group Inc chief economist Jan Hatzius.
The number of babies born in 2018 fell by two million to 15.23 million, raising fears an ageing society will pile further pressure on an already slowing economy. But the slowdown has been sharper than expected, prompting China to ease lending controls and step up government spending to shore up growth and avoid politically unsafe job losses.