SUFFICIENT SUPPLY: Residents in Luoyang, Henan Province, buy vegetables at a community market (ZHANG GUANGHUI)
Despite the weakness of Western economies, the Chinese economy still achieved a robust growth rate of 9.2 percent in 2011. The GDP totaled 47.16 trillion yuan ($7.45 trillion) last year, said the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).
But the growth rate is lower than the 10.3 percent of the previous year. Also, in the last quarter of 2011, the GDP growth dropped to 8.9 percent from 9.7 percent, 9.5 percent and 9.1 percent, in the first, second and third quarters.
"The quarter-by-quarter weakening was partly due to our economic rebalancing, but it's in line with the government's macro-control goals," said Ma Jiantang, Commissioner of the NBS. The fourth-quarter growth rate remains within a reasonable range, he said.
Yao Jingyuan, a researcher with the Councilor's Office of the State Council, said the economic slowdown is not necessarily a bad omen for China.
"It is an acceptable outcome as the economy tries to transform its growth model," said Yao. "And it's time to address the imbalance problem glossed over during past boom times."
"The slowdown is moderate and controlled, and is necessary for curbing inflation and restructuring the economy," said Zhang Xiaojing, a researcher with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS). "It also indicates that the country has sped up the transition from quantity-oriented growth to quality-led development."
Despite the slowdown, the fundamentals for the country's stable and relatively fast economic growth in the medium to long term haven't changed, said Ma. The economy still has deep growth potential thanks to ongoing urbanization, industrialization and market reforms.
Li Wei, President of the Development Research Center under the State Council, agreed.
"Two major drivers are helping to inject fresh steam into the economy: continued urbanization that creates enormous domestic demand and industrialization that requires robust investments," Li said.
"For the economy in 2012, we should still be full of confidence," said Ma. China will maintain its proactive fiscal policy and prudent monetary policy this year.
Since exporters took a heavy blow from sluggish Western economies, China's economic growth was predominantly homegrown last year.
Buoyant investment helped put a solid floor under economic growth. Investment in fixed assets surged 23.8 percent from the previous year to reach 30.19 trillion yuan ($4.77 trillion) in 2011, which contributed 54.2 percent to last year's GDP growth, said the NBS.