China’s economy grew by the fastest rate in its history as the country left last year’s lockdowns far behind.
The world’s second biggest economy saw GDP grew 18.3 per cent in the first quarter of 2021, compared to the same period the year before.
It is the fastest rate of growth since China began tracking quarterly performance in 1992, yet undershot analyst predictions of growth of 19.0 per cent.
The rapid expansion is largely the result of last year’s contraction, with China the first economy to be put into the deep freeze of lockdown.
As a result, it was also the first to remove restrictions, and a combination of strong demand at home and abroad, as well as government support for small businesses, got its economic motors going again.
However, economists said that the recovery now showed signs of slowing down. Julian Evans-Pritchard, senior china economist at Capital Economics, said:
“The upshot is that with the economy already above its pre-virus trend and policy support being withdrawn, China’s post-COVID rebound is leveling off.
“We expect quarter-on-quarter growth to remain modest during the rest of this year as the recent boom in construction and exports unwinds, pulling activity back towards trend.”
Individual sectors, such as industrial output and retail sales, also shared in the impressive growth, albeit from a very low base.
Retail sales increased 34.2 per cent year-on-year in March, beating a 28.0 per cent gain expected by analysts and stronger than the 33.8% jump seen in the first two months of the year.
Factory output grew 14.1 per cent year-on-year in March, slowing from a 35.1 per cent surge in the January-February period and lagging a forecast 17.2 per cent rise.