“A number of Western politicians and media have hyped up the periodic problems in China’s post-epidemic economic recovery process. But eventually, they will for sure be proven wrong,” foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said.
August 16, 2023
China said on Wednesday that its economic recovery “will be a bumpy and tortuous process”, but insisted Western critics “will for sure be proven wrong”.
The comments come after a raft of recent figures that have stoked concerns over China’s stuttering post-Covid recovery, and after US President Joe Biden said the country’s mounting economic problems made it a “ticking time bomb”.
A man walks past closed food stalls at a mall in Beijing on August 15, 2023. Photo: Greg Baker/AFP.
“After the smooth transition of the epidemic prevention and control, China’s economic recovery is a wave-like development and a tortuous process, which will inevitably face difficulties and problems,” foreign ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said at a regular press conference.
“A number of Western politicians and media have hyped up the periodic problems in China’s post-epidemic economic recovery process. But eventually, they will for sure be proven wrong,” he added.
Retail sales, a key gauge of consumption, grew 2.5 percent year-on-year in July, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said on Tuesday, down from 3.1 percent in June and falling short of analyst expectations.
The NBS also said it would no longer release age-specific unemployment data, citing the need to “further improve and optimise labour force survey statistics”.
Shanghai skyline. Photo: Daniel Cukier/Flickr.
The decision sparked a social media backlash on Tuesday, with internet users accusing the authorities of attempting to hide the extent of rising youth joblessness.
Chinese leaders have sought to boost domestic consumption in recent weeks, with the State Council last month releasing a 20-point plan to encourage citizens to spend more in sectors including vehicles, tourism and home appliances.
The country’s top brass has warned that the economy faces “new difficulties and challenges” as well as “hidden dangers in key areas”.
Recent data suggests China may struggle to achieve the five percent growth target it set for the year, with the economy growing just 0.8 percent between the first and second quarters of 2023, according to official figures.
Speaking at a fundraising event last week, Biden had pointed to the country’s high unemployment and ageing workforce, saying “China is in trouble.”