In the first quarter of 2023, the Chinese economy recorded higher growth than economists had expected. GDP (Gross Domestic Product) grew by 4.5 percent compared to the same period in 2022 – while a maximum growth of 4 percent was expected – and by 2.2 percent compared to the previous quarter.
The data is important because the Chinese economy is the second largest in the world after that of the United States, and because in the last three years the pandemic and the restrictions had slowed it down considerably: the first quarter of 2023 was the first in which the government has effectively abandoned the “zero Covid” strategy, which had led to very strict measures and the introduction of heavy lockdowns. The Chinese population has also been calling for an end to the restrictions for some time and in November there were exceptional protests against the government in many cities.
Growth is still below the 5 percent that the Chinese government had set itself as a goal, which however now seems more easily achievable in the final results for 2023: some analysts believe that even 6 percent could be reached at this point.
The growth was driven by a general recovery in consumption, with the Chinese population starting to shop, eat in restaurants and travel again after three years of restrictions. The value of retail sales rose 10.6 percent in March year-on-year, representing the biggest increase in two years and more than double-than-expected, and industrial production rose 3.9 percent.
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