China's sizzling economy grew by 10.2 percent in the first quarter from the same quarter last year, overshooting its official target, but inflation stayed low and growth didn't appear to be dangerously fast, the government said yesterday.
Industrial output, driven by booming exports, soared 16.7 percent while retail sales also increased, the National Bureau of Statistics reported. It said consumer prices rose just 1.2 percent.
Chinese leaders have warned that excessively rapid growth could ignite inflation and cause financial problems. But they have avoided raising interest rates to cool off the economy, trying instead to cut investment in energy-guzzling factories and real estate while maintaining high growth to reduce poverty.
The government's growth target this year is 8 percent, but forecasts by the World Bank and other experts range as high as 9.5 percent. China's economy expanded by 9.9 percent last year.
The latest figure "looks a little bit bad because it was 0.3 percentage points higher than in 2005," Zheng Jingping (鄭京平), a spokesman for the statistics bureau, said at a news conference.
But "it's really within the potential range for growth" and in line with previous years, Zheng said.
"We still need to keep fairly fast economic growth," he said. "We want to solve the poverty problem in rural areas."
Total economic output from January through March totaled 4.33 trillion yuan (US$540 billion), according to Zheng.
Investment in factories, roads and other fixed assets rose by 27.7 percent from January to March, the bureau said, suggesting that official efforts to reduce such spending were only partially effective.