China says economy stabilizing after long slowdown

BEIJING — China’s government tried Monday to reassure companies and its public about the economy’s health, saying growth is stabilizing after a lengthy decline and should hit the official target of 7.5 percent for the year.

The announcement by the chief spokesman for the Cabinet’s statistics agency was part of official efforts to defuse unease about the country’s deepest slump since the 2008 global crisis.

“There are growing signs of stabilization and also of further growth,” said the spokesman, Sheng Laiyun, at a news briefing. “We are confident we can hit our full-year growth target.”

Sheng gave no updated data but cited previously released figures that showed industrial production and other parts of the economy improved in July.

Economic growth fell to 7.5 percent in the three months ending in June after declining steadily for 10 straight quarters. Sheng said it was the longest such slowdown since China’s market-style reforms began three decades ago.

The International Monetary Fund and private sector analysts have cut this year’s growth forecasts for China, though to a still healthy level of close to 8 percent. Some analysts say growth could dip below 7 percent in coming quarters.

The slowdown was largely due to government efforts to reduce reliance on trade and investment that drove the past decade’s boom and nurture more self-sustaining growth based on domestic consumption.

Still, the downturn has been deeper than forecast, due to unexpectedly weak global demand for Chinese goods. That raised concern about higher unemployment, which could fuel political tensions, but the government says the economy is still generating new jobs.

Sheng also downplayed concern about debts owed by local governments that borrowed heavily over the past decade, in part to pay for building projects under Beijing’s stimulus in response to the 2008 crisis. Some analysts worry the economy could suffer if local governments default, hurting the state-owned banking industry.

An audit last year found local governments ran up debts of 10.7 trillion yuan ($1.6 trillion) over the preceding decade, equal to about one-quarter of China’s annual economic output.

Sheng said some local governments have paid down their debts while others are rolling out plans to manage them.

“We are monitoring the situation carefully and right now the issue is under control,” he said.

More in Herald Business Journal

3 must-try doughnuts when Top Pot opens in Edmonds

After two years of work, the popular Seattle chain is opening its second Snohomish County location.

Mother-in-law homes popular after cities ease restrictions

Lynnwood and Everett are seeing a spurt of growth after changing city codes to allow for this development.

Facebook bans Trump-affiliated data firm Cambridge Analytica

The company allegedly held onto improperly obtained user data after claiming to have deleted it.

Boeing’s newest 737 Max makes first flight over Seattle

Prospects for the new aircraft — the Max 7 — are hazy, as low-cost carriers migrated to larger models.

Boeing’s an early casualty as investors dig in for trade war

The company’s share price is headed toward its biggest weekly slump in more than two years.

A niche Bothell publisher is becoming a mortgage matchmaker

Scotsman Guide has long served lending professionals. Now it’s offering information to borrowers.

Premera pledges $250M of tax cut to health coverage, charity

Cocoon House is among the beneficiaries, receiving $1.6 million from the non-profit health insurer.

Surge in airline hiring boosts interest in aspiring pilots

Boeing predicts that the U.S. will need 117,000 new pilots by 2036.

Superstore chain Fred Meyer to stop selling guns, ammunition

Guns have been sold at nearly 45 of more than 130 stores in Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Alaska.

Most Read