China’s official media are trying to put a positive spin on the economy, countering global concerns about the slowdown ahead of next week’s annual gathering of the national legislature.

In an editorial on Saturday, Communist Party mouthpiece People’s Daily focused on the record box office and increases in holiday spending over the Lunar New Year, saying the rises reflected the “vitality and resilience of China’s high-quality development”.

“Negative elements in the international political and economic environment are rising, and domestic cyclical and structural problems are making the situation even more complex,” the editorial said. “However, our economy is generally in a sound recovery. We are still the world’s largest growth engine.”


A vanishing fairyland dream: how China Evergrande rose, then crashed

A vanishing fairyland dream: how China Evergrande rose, then crashed

China’s economy grew 5.2 per cent last year from 2022, slightly higher than the official target of around 5 per cent. But stock market plunges last year, the property sector downturn and the party’s emphasis on security have made investors skittish.

When the National People’s Congress convenes next week, observers will be watching to see what support Beijing will give the economy.

“It’s still uncertain what concrete measures China will take to spur economic growth,” an economist with a leading university in Beijing said on condition of anonymity.

“The sure thing is, however, they will talk up the economic prospects to boost confidence, as officials believe confidence and perception are the biggest challenges.”

In the editorial, People’s Daily said China’s long-term economic outlook was rosy, underpinned by China’s large pool of talent, advances in science and technology and strong exports of electric vehicles, solar cells and lithium batteries.

But there are big challenges to China’s 1 trillion yuan (US$139 billion) exports of EVs, lithium batteries and solar cells, including higher tariffs and legal action taken by the United States and European Union.

The actions could set back the critical segment of the world’s second-largest economy unless China diversifies away from the West and also boosts domestic demand, according to analysts.


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China GDP: Beijing’s long to-do list to boost its economy in 2024

Economic Daily, managed by the party’s propaganda wing, was also in assurance mode on Saturday, calling for the public to “view China’s structural problems objectively”.

“The problems of an aging population and high government debt are shared by many countries, and [China economy] has felt the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and the worsening international geopolitical environment, especially all kinds of containment measures from the US,” it said in an editorial.

While the party and the central government have introduced policies to address these problems, people should have the confidence that the problems will be solved if the policies are properly implemented, it said.

During the party’s annual economic work conference in December, President Xi Jinping pledged to make development a top political priority, guide public opinion, and play up China’s “bright prospects” in 2024.

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