China's economy roared back to the pre-pandemic growth rates as its manufacturing motors fired up to meet rising export demand.
China is roaring in the fourth quarter; hence, driving the full-year expansion beyond expectations and propelling its global advance.
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While much of the world is still coping with the resurgent coronavirus and the economic pain it brings, China has posted a positive growth rate for 2020, making it possibly the only large economy to do so.
But with many of its export markets now facing renewed restrictions as their COVID-19 cases increase, China's economy may not be able to maintain the rapid rebound it reported late last year, some analysts have predicted.
According to figures published on Monday by China's National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), gross domestic product (GDP) grew by 2.3 percent for the whole of 2020 compared to 2019, higher than the 1.9 percent growth rate expected by the International Monetary Fund in its October 2020 forecast.
The growth of China makes it an outlier among large economies. The World Bank predicts a 3.6 percent downturn in the U.S. economy and a 7.4 percent reduction in the euro area in 2020, leading to a 4.3 percent global economic pullback.
China's economy, the second-largest in the world, ended the year on a high note. According to data released by the National Bureau of Statistics on Monday, the gross domestic product grew 6.5 percent in the fourth quarter from a year earlier, marking China's best quarter of year-over-year growth in two years.
"The performance was way better than we had expected," Ning Jizhe, a spokesman for China's National Bureau of Statistics said during the press conference in Beijing.
For the first time in decades, the nation scrapped its growth target last year as the pandemic dealt a historic blow to the economy. In the first quarter, GDP shrank almost 7 percent as large swaths of the world were placed on lockdown to control the virus's spread.
Since then, through significant infrastructure projects and by offering cash handouts to stimulate spending among people, the government has tried to spur growth.
A powerful driver of growth was industrial output, which jumped 7.3 percent in December from a year earlier.
Trade has been high as well. According to statistics released last Friday, China's total surplus for the year reached a record $535 billion, up 27 percent from 2019. Analysts pointed out that when individuals worldwide operated from home, the nation benefited from a great deal of demand for safety gear and electronics.
Compare this with retail sales, a key measure of consumer spending in the most populated country globally, which contracted by 3.9% last year, down from 8.0% growth in 2019. In December 2020, with 4.6 percent growth from a year earlier, retail sales disappointed again, missing analysts' estimates of 5.5 percent growth.
In the sense of the effect of one of the worst coronavirus outbreaks since the spring of last year on consumption during the upcoming Lunar New Year festival, the declining rate of consumption raises concerns again about the outlook for consumer spending.
China's economy did not set an economic growth goal for 2020 in a break from tradition as with the fallout from the virus. But it set goals for job growth and unemployment, both of which were met, the data release showed on Monday.