Regions making up one-third of China’s economy expanded slower than the national growth rate in the first quarter, underscoring the extent of the damage caused by a worsening COVID-19 outbreak and widening lockdowns.
Six provincial-level jurisdictions — all of which experienced a rise in infections in the January-to-March period — lagged behind the national GDP growth rate of 4.8 percent, local statistics bureaus said.
That included Guangdong and Jiangsu provinces, two of the country’s biggest provincial economies, which grew 3.3 percent and 4.6 percent respectively.
In Guangdong, the technology hub of Shenzhen was last month locked down for one week, while manufacturing base Dongguan salvaged factory activity by keeping workers in so-called “closed loops,” where they lived on site.
Several cities in Jiangsu, including the key electronics hub of Suzhou near Shanghai, also tightened controls as infections rose.
The other laggards included Henan, Liaoning, Shanghai and Tianjin. The latter, a port city that recorded China’s first community spread of the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 in January, expanded just 0.1 percent and had been struggling before the latest outbreak.
The first-quarter data made public so far includes 28 of China’s 31 provincial-level jurisdictions. Jilin, Xinjiang and Tibet, which contributed just 3.13 percent of national GDP, have yet to disclose results.
Jiangxi Province was the quarter’s best performer, with its economy growing 6.9 percent. The southeastern province, known for its fine porcelain, recorded retail sales growth of 8.9 percent.
Investment and industrial production in Jiangxi were also strikingly robust, up 15.6 percent and 9.5 percent respectively.
However, China’s overall growth outlook is weakening, as lockdowns in places such as Shanghai drag on and as infections start to rise in Beijing, prompting fears of strict curbs there.
Economists have slashed their growth forecasts due to the country’s strict adherence to its “zero COVID” policy.
The latest survey conduction by Bloomberg News found that GDP is expected to grow 4.9 percent this year, far short of Beijing’s target of about 5.5 percent.
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