China’s economy hit a bump in the fourth quarter, growing by 2.9 percent year-on-year, National Bureau of Statistics data showed on Tuesday, beating expectations but still underlining the toll exacted by a stringent “zero-COVID” policy.
Gross domestic product (GDP) had been forecast to expand 1.8 percent from a year earlier, according to a Reuters poll of analysts, slowing from 3.9 percent in the third quarter.
Growth for 2022 was at 3.0 percent, the data showed, far below the official target of around 5.5 percent. Excluding the 2.2 percent expansion after COVID first hit in 2020, this is the worst showing in nearly half a century.
On a quarter-on-quarter basis, GDP came in at 0.0 percent in October-December, compared with expectations for a 0.8 percent drop and a 3.9 percent gain in the previous quarter.
China’s economy struggled over 2022, with major industrial centers including Shanghai and the Yangtze River Delta area as well as Guangzhou locked down or put under curbs for long periods as part of the government’s “zero-COVID” strategy.
That stringent anti-virus policy was abruptly lifted last month, and economists expect growth to rebound this year although rocketing COVID infections could temper the revival in the near term. Beijing has pledged more support for the economy as external demand falters amid global recession risks.