China’s No. 2 leader said on Tuesday that his country’s economy had grown “about 5.2 percent” last year, providing a rare early glimpse of important economic data a day before its official release.
Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Premier Li Qiang, China’s second-highest official after Xi Jinping, said China had surpassed its target last year for economic growth of around 5 percent. He also insisted that China had managed to expand the economy without using risky or short-term measures, such as big spending or credit programs.
“In the course of economic development, we have consistently avoided major stimuli and have not sought short-term growth at the price of accumulating long-term risks,” he said.
Mr. Li’s comments were consistent with publicly available economic growth estimates for last year. China will announce the official figure in Beijing on Wednesday.
Caixin, a Chinese news organization, said survey of economists Last week he concluded that the economy probably grew by 5.3 percent.
The timing of the release of official economic reports has been a sensitive issue in China since the government delayed the release of economic growth data by a week in October 2022. The extra time allowed the Communist Party to finish a major national congress earlier. of mediocre statistics being distributed. the public.
Stephen Roach, a Yale economist and former president of Morgan Stanley Asia, said Li’s mention of an economic growth estimate was a far less serious digression from any global norm than the delay to 2022. “There are enough doubts about the credibility of China’s numbers that I don’t think this is a serious violation of our confidence in those numbers,” he said.
As Li mentioned, China has been cautious about rapidly increasing economic stimulus to reverse a widespread slowdown. China has been particularly cautious about increases in central government spending. He even cut the country’s social safety net last year by enacting a smaller increase in government payments to seniors and pausing a large unemployment insurance program.
But in recent months China’s central government has authorized additional sales of bonds, which are a form of borrowing, and raised its ceiling on deficit spending. Beijing said the bonds were needed in part to provide extra money in response to severe flooding last summer. China’s central bank has also taken steps to indirectly provide additional credit to local governments this winter.
China faces a sharp decline in the real estate sector and an alarming loss of consumer confidence. Li used much of his Davos speech to present China as an attractive market for global companies and as a country with strong prospects for economic growth. He noted that China, which is the world’s largest exporter, has what he described as the widest range of industries in the world.
Chris Buckley and Li you contributed with reports and investigations.