World China posts record economic growth after plunge 12 months ago
Why China is still clinging to coal
Over half the coal plants under development globally are in China, and the country isn’t slowing down, a new report found.China built the majority of the coal plants completed in 2020, and also accounted for 85 percent of the world’s new coal plant proposals, according to a report out Monday by Global Energy Monitor, an environmental research and advocacy group. That means instead of transitioning away from coal power — the source of nearly 40 percent of China’s carbon emissions — it is doubling down.
China’s economy posted a record growth rate in the first quarter compared with the same period last year, when the country was in the midst of a crushing lockdown to control the spread of the coronavirus.
But compared with the last quarter of 2020, the growth rate slowed, official figures show, raising questions about the strength of the recovery over the rest of this year.
Australia risks falling off the pace as US returns to global economic leadership
As the global economy picks up speed off the back of fiscal stimulus, Australia is cutting spending and clamping down on wages growth, pushing it back into the pack this year.The IMF’s latest World Economic Outlook out this week showed Australia outperforming most developed economies in 2020 with growth of -2.4%, compared to less than -5% in Europe and -4% in the US. Most of that is down to Australia being isolated, the states’ mostly effective lockdowns and contact tracing, and the Morrison government’s highly effective fiscal support via JobKeeper, JobSeeker and the HomeBuilder program, as well as the aggressive loosening of monetary policy by the Reserve Bank.
Gross domestic product (GDP) expanded by 18.3 percent in the first three months of 2021 year-on-year, according to data from the National Bureau of Statistics. The figure was slower than the 19 percent growth rate forecast by economists in a poll conducted by the Reuters news agency and 18.5 percent by Bloomberg.
On a quarter-on-quarter basis, GDP grew by 0.6 percent in the first three months, slower than the revised 3.2 percent expansion recorded in the previous three-month period and also below analyst forecasts.
“China’s GDP growth jumped to a record high in [year-on-year] terms last quarter. But this was entirely due to a weaker base for comparison from last year’s historic downturn,” Julian Evans-Pritchard, a senior China economist at Capital Economics, said in a note sent to Al Jazeera.
Is China really about to invade Taiwan?
Analysts say US military’s warnings of rising threat reflect deterioration in US-China ties rather than any real change.While largely symbolic, the statement would be an indication of increasing concern about the security of the democratically-run island amid dire public warnings from senior US military officials about the threat of an invasion by Beijing, which claims the island as its own.
“In [quarter-on-quarter] terms, growth dropped back sharply and with the exception of [the first quarter of] last year, was slower than at any other time during the past decade,” he added.
Breaking down the headline numbers showed weaknesses in key sectors of the economy.
Growth in industrial and construction activity slowed to 1.3 percent in the first three months of the year from 2.3 percent in the fourth quarter of 2020 based on quarter-on-quarter comparisons, according to Capital Economics. Meanwhile, the services sector contracted by 2.3 percent after a 3.9 percent expansion based on the same comparisons.
Dutch bank ING attributed the moderation in industrial production growth to slower overseas demand for clothing and a slowdown in production of smart devices, possibly due to a global shortage in computer chips. Tighter anti-pollution measures imposed on refineries may have also contributed to the slowing growth in industries, ING said.
Q+A panellist Vicky Xu says Chinese government agents have detained her friends over her reporting on Uyghurs and human rights abuses in Xinjiang
Journalist Vicky Xu details colleagues being accused of rape and her friends being interrogated by Chinese government agents over her reporting on human rights abuses in Xinjiang, while Dr Norman Swan says Australia should be procuring the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, not just Pfizer.She also fears she is being monitored in Australia by Chinese government agents.
But other parts of the economy continue to perform strongly.
Retail sales grew by 1.8 percent in March compared with the month before following a 1.5 percent expansion in February.
More chips, please
Looking ahead, analysts say China’s economy is unlikely to be able to sustain the rapid growth of the first quarter, as the government reins in some of the stimulus measures it launched during the depths of the crisis.
“Most quarters should experience moderate growth because without base effects to swell the comparison, ‘super-high’ growth will be very hard to repeat,” ING’s chief economist for Greater China, Iris Pang, said in a note sent to Al Jazeera.
The chip shortage – which has severely curtailed production of cars and crucial computer network equipment such as routers in the United States and Japan – and the direction of China-US relations could also be key factors determining the strength of China’s recovery, Pang said.
“China-US relations will be critical for China’s economic growth, mostly in technology development. It is likely that the US will continue to put more pressure on China on this topic,” Pang wrote.
China GDP grows record 18.3% in first quarter in virus rebound
China's economy expanded at its fastest pace on record in the first quarter, data showed Friday, in a sharp turnaround from the historic contraction caused by the coronavirus outbreak. It marks the fastest pace since quarterly records began three decades ago, though the GDP figure of 18.3 percent is slightly below forecasts in an AFP survey of economists. While the disease first emerged in central China in late 2019, the country was also the quickest to bounce back after authorities imposed strict control measures and consumers stayed home.
“Concern about chip shortages is becoming a practical issue for businesses, from investment to production to exports and domestic sales. How long this bottleneck will take to clear is unclear.”
For the full year, ING expects China’s economy to expand by 8.6 percent, a faster growth rate than its earlier forecast of 7 percent.
That would far surpass the government’s 2021 annual growth target of above 6 percent.
China Warplanes Are Flying Near Taiwan in Record Numbers .
Taiwan's defense ministry reported nine Chinese warplanes in its air defense identification zone on Tuesday, bringing the total number of sorties in April to 96 so far.Five J-16 fighters and four Y-8 reconnaissance planes of different variants were among the People's Liberation Army Air Force assets to violate Taiwan's self-declared air defense identification zone (ADIZ), according to the ministry. It illustrated the flight paths on its website and said it had tasked interceptor jets and tracked the Chinese aircraft using missiles.