Expansion in China's massive manufacturing sector slowed in April to its lowest point in six months according to a government survey, raising questions on whether it can sustain rapid growth.
The manufacturing purchasing managers' index (PMI) dipped to a 51.2 reading in April, the slowest expansion (indicated by a reading above 50) since October, China's National Bureau of Statistics reported.
That was a big drop from the 51.8 reading reported in March, as the growth of new orders slowed.
A slowdown in Chinese manufacturing could have big repercussions for the world economy.
While the Chinese manufacturing industry has expanded for nine months in a row according to the PMI measure, the last period of sustained weakness throughout 2015 and going into the start of 2016 coincided with a turbulent time for the global economy.
The world's second largest economy remains overly reliant on credit to fuel its booming expansion, according to economists from across the world, including the Bank of England.
China's government is preparing the nation for slowing growth as the economy matures to a more services-oriented model, but the country is still heavily reliant on manufacturing.
The government is aiming for growth of around 6.5 per cent for 2017, the lowest target in more than 20 years.
China's central bank, the People's Bank of China, has tightened monetary policy in the first few months of the year in part to try to reduce leverage in the financial system.