China's first-quarter GDP up 8.1 per cent

Solid growth, despite falling short of expectations.

Chinese currency notes. Credit: Getty Images

China’s gross domestic product (GDP) in the first quarter of 2012 was 10,799.5 billion yuan, a year-on-year increase of 8.1 per cent, according to figures released today by the country’s National Bureau of Statistics (NBSC).

This fell conspicuously below expectations of an 8.4 per cent increase, and was a marked decline from the previous quarter’s 8.9 per cent. Sheng Laiyun, spokesman for the NBSC, cited “the complicated and volatile international environment and the new emerging challenges in domestic economic development” but the persistence of China’s slide in growth, which has lasted five quarters already, has raised concerns among some investors.

Yet the comparative strength of the 8.1 per cent growth in international terms should still be enough to dispel any fears of an imminent burnout for China.

The news across its main sectors was positive: the value added of the primary industry was 692.2 billion yuan, up by 3.8 per cent; that of the secondary industry was 5,145.1 billion yuan, up by 9.1 per cent; and that of the tertiary industry was 4,962.2 billion yuan, up by 7.5 per cent. Among the 41 industrial divisions, 23 divisions registered year-on-year increase in profits.

Imports and exports totalled $859.37bn US dollars, a year-on-year growth of 7.3 per cent.

During the quarter, the consumer price went up by 3.8 per cent year-on-year, 1.6 points lower than in 2011 and a year-on-year drop of 1.2 points. The per-capita total income of urban households was 7,382 yuan.

Total investment in real estate development was 1,092.7 billion yuan, a staggering increase on the year of 23.5 per cent. Investment in fixed assets (excluding rural households) was 4,786.5 billion yuan, up by 20.9 per cent (real growth of 18.2 per cent, after deducting price factors), or 2.9 percentage points lower than that in 2011.

By the end of March, the balance of broad money was 89.56 trillion yuan, a year-on-year growth of 13.4 per cent; the balance of narrow money was 27.80 trillion yuan, up by 4.4 per cent; cash in circulation was 4.96 trillion yuan, up by 10.6 per cent.

These figures from NBSC followed the World Bank's China Quarterly Update, released yesterday, which lowered the forecast for China's economic growth this year to 8.2 per cent from the 8.4 per cent estimate issued in January.