英國《金融時報》傑夫•代爾(Geoff Dyer)北京報導 2008-10-21
China announced yesterday new steps to boost the property market and help exporters after third quarter growth fell to 9 per cent, the slowest pace in five years and well below forecasts.
The Chinese State Council also said it was planning increases in infrastructure spending after the growth rate of the economy fell for the fifth quarter in a row.
For much of the last year, China had seemed immune to the problems in international credit markets however in recent weeks there have been growing signs that the economy might slow more sharply than expected, which has contributed to falling commodity prices.
The 9 per cent expansion in gross domestic product in the third quarter was below the consensus forecast of 9.7 per cent and down from 10.1 per cent in the second quarter, although the figures were affected by restrictions on factories introduced during the Olympics to reduce pollution. In the first nine months of the year, the economy expanded by 9.9 per cent, down from 11.9 per cent in the whole of 2007.
Exports have held up much better than expected so far this year, expanding 23 per cent in the third quarter in dollar terms as Chinese companies discovered new markets in booming emerging economies. Yet many of those countries are beginning to suffer from their own financial crises or falling commodity prices.
Economists remain divided over whether China is witnessing a welcome breather after the hectic expansion of recent years or the beginning of a prolonged slide in growth rates that will deepen the expected slump in the global economy.
Qing Wang, economist at Morgan Stanley, said the measures announced by the State Council were “the beginning of a systematic approach adopted by policy-makers to boost economic growth and prevent an economic hard landing”.
In one of the more downbeat prognoses, Sherman Chan, economist at Moody's ratings agency, said many businesses were struggling amid weakening external demand. She added: “ China 's growth miracle has finally ended.”
Other economic data presented a more mixed picture, with industrial production continuing to slow sharply while consumer spending increased and inflation eased.
Industrial production increased by 11.4 per cent in September compared to the year before, the slowest rate of increase since 2002. However, there were some positive indications of underlying strength in the economy including a 17.1 per cent increase in real retail sales, up from 16.8 per cent in August. The rate of consumer price inflation continued to drop to 4.6 per cent, from 4.9 per cent, while factory-gate inflation also moderated from 10.1 per cent in August to 9.1 per cent.
China is beginning to suffer its own property market downturn, which could have a substantial impact given the large role real estate investment plays in the economy. Prices began to fall in August compared with the previous month and figures for units of housing sold and property under construction have shown significant drops.