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China’s Economy Fails To Rebound Following Pandemic Tumble

China’s economic growth slowed in the second quarter of 2023 as the country continues to struggle following the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the National Bureau of Statistics of China (NBSC).

Gross domestic product (GDP) growth in China slowed to 0.8% for the second quarter of 2023, compared to 2.2% for the first quarter, with growth for the year increasing to 6.3% from 4.5% for the first quarter, according to a NBSC press release. The performance comes as the country’s exports struggle, private sector investments slow and retail sales remain weak, according to The Wall Street Journal.

“According to preliminary estimates, the gross domestic product (GDP) in the first half year reached 59,303.4 billion yuan, up by 5.5 percent year on year at constant price, or 1.0 percentage point faster than that in the first quarter of 2023,” the NBSC press release reads. “By quarter, the GDP grew by 4.5 percent year on year in the first quarter and 6.3 percent in the second quarter. The GDP in the second quarter was up by 0.8 percent quarter on quarter.”

Unemployment for those between the ages of 16 and 24 increased from 19.6% in the first quarter to 21.3% for the second quarter, while urban unemployment remained at 5.2% for a second quarter, according to the NBSC.

Households in China appear wary of spending as retail sales increased only 0.2% from May, the WSJ reported. The cautious spending indicates possible anxiety about the wider economy, showing that consumers are trying to save money due to fears about job or income loss.

The Chinese economy has struggled to find its footing following the COVID-19 pandemic, when the country imposed strict lockdown measures. The lockdown measures, which were some of the strictest in the world, sparked protests in many cities in China.

The ‘zero covid’ policy that Chinese President Xi Jinping instituted resulted in just a 0.4% year-over-year economic growth rate in the second quarter of 2022. China rolled back its ‘zero covid’ policy in December 2022.

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