China maintained its record of robust growth last year with an expansion of 9.9 percent, the government said yesterday, putting it on course to overtake the UK as the world's fourth-biggest economy.
Fueled by booming investment and active consumer spending, China's GDP rose to 18.2 trillion yuan (US$2.3 trillion) last year, the National Bureau of Statistics said.
Last year's growth rate, which took inflation into account, followed an expansion of 10.1 percent in 2004 and 10 percent in 2003. The performance also matched the average growth rate of 9.9 percent recorded between 1993 and 2004.
Statistics bureau director Li Deshui (
"The stability of the economic performance was strengthened to some extent and progress was seen in more balanced development," he told a briefing in Beijing.
Analysts said China had most likely now jumped from sixth to fourth on the list of the world's biggest economies, overtaking France and the UK.
Investment remained the key growth driver, accounting for nearly half of last year's economic expansion, Li said.
Fixed asset investments, the best measure of Chinese investment spending, rose 25.7 percent last year, down slightly from 26.6 percent the year before.
Private consumer spending, reflected in retail sales soaring 12.9 percent, accounted for one-third of overall growth, but inflation was subdued at 1.8 percent increase, compared with 3.9 percent in 2004. Net exports accounted for the remaining 18 percent of Chinese growth, with a trade surplus nearly tripling to a record US$101.9 billion last year. That, along with foreign direct investment of US$60.3 billion, helped boost forex reserves at the end of last year to US$818.9 billion, up US$208.9 billion from a year earlier.