China's economy expanded 8.1% in 2021, but growth is slowing - CNN
Jan 17, 2022 1 min, 39 secs
And it outstrips the Chinese government's target last year for its economy to expand at least 6%.

But GDP expanded just 4% in the last quarter of the year compared to a year prior, according to government figures released Monday, the slowest pace in a year and a half.

Retail sales increased just 1.7% in December from a year earlier, sharply lower than November's 3.9% uptick.

Property investment and new housing projects that have started construction also declined.

While the final quarter was "better than expected," according to Larry Hu, head of China economics for Macquarie Group, the economy faces "multiple headwinds" this year, especially from Omicron and the real estate sector.

"As a result, we project disappointing consumption growth this year, especially" in the first half of 2022, Kuijs added.

A troubled real estate sector

China has been contending with a slew of problems recently, including tumult in its property sector.

Troubled Chinese real estate developer Evergrande — which has some $300 billion of total liabilities — has been struggling to pay its debts and was recently ordered to demolish a few dozen buildings in the country.

December marked a significant downturn, though: Investment plunged 13.2% in that month alone, according to an estimate by Chaoping Zhu, chief global strategist for JP Morgan Asset Management.

And the amount of floor area covered by newly started housing projects plummeted more than 11% in 2021 from the prior year, government data showed.

"We expect further weakness [of the housing sector] over the coming quarters amid tight financing constraints for developers," said Julian Evans-Pritchard, senior China economist for Capital Economics, in a Monday research note.

China's Zero-Covid policy will persist

Beijing's unwavering insistence on stamping out any trace of the coronavirus, meanwhile, is facing a huge test as authorities grapple with stubborn outbreaks and lock down large swaths of the population to contain them.

The Central Economic Work Conference — an event held by top Chinese leaders in December to decide the direction of policy in 2022 — also signaled that authorities are willing to take more aggressive actions this year.

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