BEIJING, Oct. 19 -- China's announcement on Thursday of further economic slowdown in the third quarter but stronger performances in industrial production, retail sales and investment offered reason for confidence, however cautious that may be.
According to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), China's economy tumbled for the seventh straight quarter to expand at 7.4 percent year on year in the third quarter of 2012, slowing from 7.6 percent in the second quarter and 8.1 percent in the first.
On the bright side, industrial value-added output grew 9.2 percent in September. Retail sales in September shot up 14.2 percent over the same period last year, and the growth rate of fixed-asset investment in the first nine months of 2012 accelerated by 0.1 percentage point compared with the rate in the first half of the year.
The data echoed Premier Wen Jiabao's remarks during recent talks on economic conditions. He said growth in the Chinese economy appeared to be stabilizing and he was confident that China can meet its official growth target of 7.5 percent for the year, a growth rate lower than its past record, but still higher than that of many other economies in the world.
The mixed data show that China is coming out of the trough it was in earlier this year when the sluggish economies of other countries dimmed exports and the Chinese government refrained from unrolling another round of massive stimulus like the one unveiled after the 2008 international financial crisis to curb inflation and excess investment.
The positive outcomes in the third-quarter reports are the result of both recovering exports and the mild stimulating measures from the Chinese government, which cut the reserve requirement ratio for banks and lowered benchmark interest rates twice this year, respectively.
China's exports rose sharply in September thanks to improvements in the EU and U.S. economies and the Chinese government's efforts to facilitate export tax rebates for enterprises.
Following the new round of quantitative easing (QE3) in the U.S. and the launch of the European Stability Mechanism, a permanent bailout fund in the eurozone, as well as continued efforts from China to restructure and optimize its industries, China's economic prospects in the near future look promising.
While announcing the Q3 data, the NBS spokesman said the nation will continue to prioritize growth-stabilizing efforts while pushing forward economic restructuring and industrial upgrading.
Given the size of the Chinese economy, its sign of stability should be comforting to other economies, especially those that greatly depend on their exports to China.