China's GDP grew at 6.6 per cent in 2018, its slowest rate since 1990, official figures showed on Monday, stoking fears about the impact of sluggish growth in the world's second largest economy on the world as Beijing grappled with the effects of the trade war with the US.
China's two-child policy implemented in 2016 has failed to make an impact on the country's low birth rate as the number of new-borns dropped by two million past year in the world's most populous nation, according to official figures released Monday.
Reportedly, China's economic growth is going to slow down further this year, with analysts predicting a 6% annual growth in 2019.
Growth in the last quarter of 2018 dipped to 6.4 percent - the lowest quarterly level since the 2008 global crisis - from the previous quarter's 6.5 percent.
After years of breakneck growth, the world's second largest economy is losing steam, evidenced by slowing consumer spending, manufacturing output, and investment. The trade war with the U.S. has added to the gloomy outlook.
China´s exports to United States and the world also fell in December, reinforcing the need for its legions of domestic consumers to fuel the economy.
China's population rose by 15.23 million people in 2018, marking a continued decrease in the growth rate of the world's most populous nation.
A total of 15.23 million babies were born past year in China, a drop by about two million from that of 2017, the data said.
While China is locked in a bruising trade war with the US, Mr Hatzius pinned much of the slowdown on the government's policy push to curb the overall level of debt in the economy.
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Retail sales increased by nine percent in 2018 year-on-year, down from 10.2 per cent in 2017, the NBS said. China is the world's largest auto market and sales fell a year ago for the first time since 1991, contracting by 4 percent.
"But if those remaining drivers of growth start to tank, then the trouble becomes very significant indeed", said James Laurenceson, deputy director of the Australia-China Relations Institute in Sydney.
With support measures expected to take some time to kick in, most analysts believe conditions are likely to get worse before they get better.
The low fertility rate, partly a result of over three decades of ruthless birth control by Beijing, showed that the Chinese leadership was too optimistic about the incentive provided by its relaxed birth policy.
The slowing housing market is exerting additional downward pressure on the economy. Last month, iPhone maker Apple issued its first revenue warning in almost 12 years, citing weak Chinese demand.
On the other hand, Indian buyers of Chinese goods may benefit by possible reduction in prices as China-based companies scramble for new orders.
Nomura analysts said current stimulus measures will not be sufficient and the government will need to do more to prevent a rapid deterioration in the economy.
China hit the brakes on major projects such as subway lines and motorways and held off on mountain-moving endeavours to keep a lid on debt last year, with infrastructure investment rising by just 3.8 percent, down from 19 percent the year before.