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China's economy achieved steady growth in 2023


China's National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) on Thursday released its yearly statistical communique, detailing the country's economic and social progress and developments in 2023.

Despite facing pressures on multiple fronts last year, the overall Chinese economy has seen improving recovery, with main targets being met, according to Sheng Laiyun, deputy director of NBS.

In 2023, China's economy grew steadily, with its GDP achieving an increase of 5.2 percent year on year to hit 126.06 trillion yuan ($17.75 trillion) last year, above the government target of "around 5 percent."

In the four quarters last year, China's GDP grew by 4.5 percent, 6.3 percent, 4.9 percent and 5.2 percent, respectively. This demonstrated a trend of initially slower growth, followed by a faster and more stable pace towards the latter parts of the year, said Sheng.

Despite the complex international landscape in 2023, China's economic growth significantly outpaced the U.S.'s 2.5-percent GDP increase, he said.

NBS: Employment fundamentals stable

Meanwhile, the employment market in China has remained generally stable. 

China's average urban unemployment rate was 5.2 percent, down 0.4 percentage point from the previous year and lower than the projected target of around 5.5 percent.

In terms of consumption and prices, China's consumer price index (CPI) rose 0.2 percent from the previous year, maintaining a moderate upward trend that was markedly lower than the 4.1-percent increase in the U.S., and 5.4 percent in the euro area.

"This is in stark contrast to the high inflation that continues to plague major developed economies," said Sheng.

China continues to pursue high-quality development

In addition to maintaining the stability of people's livelihoods, China has further moved forward towards its high-quality development goals. 

"At present, China's economy is in a critical period of transforming the development model and optimizing the economic structure, but it has made new progress in resolutely promoting high quality," said Sheng.

New growth drivers witnessed robust development, with China's investment in technology to upgrade the manufacturing industry increasing by 3.8 percent over the previous year. Value-added output in high-tech manufacturing accounted for 15.7 percent among all major industrial enterprises while value-added output in equipment manufacturing accounted for 33.6 percent.

Advancing reform and opening-up

Additionally, China has promoted the construction of a unified national market and optimized the environment for the development of the private economy. 

In 2023, China set up 32.73 million new business entities and an average of 27,000 new enterprises per day, which effectively enhanced the vitality and vibrancy of economic development.

In terms of international trade, China achieved a basic equilibrium in the balance of payments. The total value of imports and exports of goods in 2023 was 41.8 trillion yuan, which achieved positive growth despite a high baseline. Exports increased by 0.6 percent which has helped keep China's international market share stable.

"At present and in the future, China's development continues to face strategic opportunities and risks and challenges, but the opportunities outweigh challenges, and the favorable conditions outweigh unfavorable factors," said Sheng.

(Cover via CFP)

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