China’s Economy, Propelled by Its Factories, Grew at Start of Year


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The Chinese economy grew strongly in the first three months of the year, new data shows, as China built more factories and exported huge amounts of goods to counter a severe real estate crisis and sluggish spending at home.

To stimulate growth, China, the world’s second-largest economy, turned to a familiar tactic: investing heavily in its manufacturing sector, including a binge of new factories that have helped to propel the sale around the world of solar panels, electric cars and other products.

But China’s bet on exports has worried many foreign countries and companies, which fear that rising shipments of Chinese goods that are flooding economies elsewhere may undermine their own manufacturing industries and lead to layoffs.

On Tuesday, China’s National Bureau of Statistics said the economy grew 1.6 percent in the first quarter over the previous three months. When projected out for the entire year, the first-quarter data indicates that China’s economy was growing at an annual rate of about 6.6 percent.

China needs robust growth to bring down persistently high youth unemployment and to help companies and households cope with very high levels of debt.

For the year, China has set a growth target of about 5 percent, a goal that many economists had viewed as ambitious, although some have recently upgraded their forecasts. Last year, China’s economy grew 5.2 percent.

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