Chinese economy stays resilient in May on consumption growth

(Photo: Xinhua)

BEIJING, June 14 (Xinhua) -- The Chinese economy stayed resilient in May as the leading growth engine of consumption picked up expansion pace.

May retail sales expanded 8.6 percent year on year, quickening from an increase of 7.2 percent registered in April, data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showed Friday.

China saw its total retail sales up 8.1 percent year on year in the first five months of this year to reach 16.1332 trillion yuan (about 2.33 trillion U.S. dollars).

Online retail sales continued to post robust growth momentum by growing 17.8 percent during the Jan-May period, NBS data showed.

Consumption is now the biggest driver of the world's largest developing economy, which contributed to over 65 percent of GDP growth in the first quarter of this year.

Friday's data also showed steady employment, with the surveyed urban unemployment rate remaining flat at five percent in May.

Growth of industrial output, fixed asset investment and real estate investment dipped last month.

"It's normal to see monthly fluctuations of economic performance, while we have to adopt a more long-term perspective concerning economic growth," said NBS spokesperson Fu Linghui.

China's economy maintained stable growth in May, with improvements on some fronts, Fu said, citing robust services market growth and rising investment in high-tech sectors.

Fu pointed out that the commercialization of 5G technologies, a decision made last week, will help boost the upgrading of the country's manufacturing as well as service sectors.

The Chinese government has stepped up efforts in recent months to keep the economy operate within an appropriate range.

"We have seen early signs of counter-cyclical policy adjustments to soften the impact of external demand shocks and domestic deleveraging," a research note from investment banking firm CICC said, citing a recent example of allowing local government special bonds to be used as capital for qualified infrastructure investment projects.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang on Thursday called for further boosting mass entrepreneurship and innovation to better stabilize employment, promote innovation and strengthen new growth impetus.

Calling mass entrepreneurship and innovation "important pillars" of China's economic resilience, Li said the country can withstand downward economic pressures and maintain long-term economic fundamentals by stimulating market players' vitality and social creativity.

China's 11,800-plus incubators had helped nurture about 620,000 startup enterprises and teams by the end of last year, creating 3.95 million jobs, said a report by Torch High Technology Industry Development Center.