The ruling party is trying to revive economic growth while enforcing its “Zero Covid" strategy that has temporarily shut down Shanghai and other industrial centers while other countries are lifting travel curbs and reviving trade.

Shutdowns hurt China’s trading partners by depressing demand for imported oil, food and consumer goods.
Shutdowns hurt China’s trading partners by depressing demand for imported oil, food and consumer goods. (AP Archive)

China's economic growth accelerated in the latest quarter but still was among the slowest in decades as the country wrestled with repeated closures of cities to fight virus outbreaks.

The world's second-largest economy grew by 3.9 percent over a year earlier in the three months ending in September, up from the previous quarter's 0.4 percent, official data showed on Monday. 

For the first nine months of the year, growth was 3 percent over a year earlier.

A news conference to announce the figures last week during a meeting of the ruling Communist Party was postponed without explanation. The National Statistics Bureau released the figures on its website without advance notice of the timing.

No data were immediately released for growth compared with the previous quarter, the way data for other major economies are measured. The economy shrank by 2.6 percent in the quarter ending in June compared with the previous three-month period.

The ruling party is trying to revive economic growth while enforcing its “Zero Covid" strategy that has temporarily shut down Shanghai and other industrial centers while other countries are lifting travel curbs and reviving trade.

The slump hurts China’s trading partners by depressing demand for imported oil, food and consumer goods.

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Beijing moves cautiously

Repeated shutdowns and uncertainty about business conditions have devastated entrepreneurs who generate China’s new wealth and jobs. Small retailers and restaurants have closed. Others say they are struggling to stay afloat.

Other major economies report growth compared with the previous quarter, which makes their levels look lower than China's. 

Beijing for decades reported only growth compared with the previous year, which hid short-term fluctuations, but it has started to release quarter-on-quarter figures.

Forecasters say Beijing is using cautious, targeted stimulus instead of across-the-board spending, a strategy that will take longer to show results. 

Chinese leaders worry too much spending might push up politically sensitive housing costs or corporate debt they worry is dangerously high.

Growth for the first half of the year was 2.5 percent over a year earlier, one of the weakest levels in the past three decades.

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Source: AP