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China Economic Update

China braved the economic headwinds and emerged from multiple challenges in 2022 with hard-won feats, according to an official statistical communique published on Tuesday.

After experiencing multiple ups and downs, the country’s economy continued to withstand the downward pressures and scored 3-percent growth year on year in 2022, said the communique released on the website of the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

In a comment article on the communique, Sheng Laiyun, deputy head of the NBS, said that the steady macroeconomic fundamentals were underpinned by China’s enhanced implementation of policies in 2022, when the economy was faced with a turbulent environment abroad and arduous development tasks at home.


Looking back on 2022, China’s economy started off the year with a better-than-expected growth of 4.8-percent in the first quarter. The growth rate narrowed sharply in the second quarter due to the shocks from multiple unexpected factors.

However, the economy was quickly brought back on track in the third quarter as China promptly introduced a package of pro-growth policies and follow-up measures, Sheng said.

These included a combination of tax refunds, as well as tax and fee cuts and deferrals, that totaled 4.2 trillion yuan (about 604.15 billion U.S. dollars) in 2022. Such efforts helped China sustain its recovery momentum in the fourth quarter, Sheng noted.

China’s GDP reached a record high of 121 trillion yuan in 2022, a new high after the country broke the thresholds of 100 trillion yuan and 110 trillion yuan in 2020 and 2021, respectively.


Despite seeing fiercer competition in international markets amid intensified external suppression of the technological sector and heightened decoupling risks in 2022, China still made headway on technological innovation and has continued to increase its research input, according to Sheng.

In 2022, China’s total expenditure on research and development (R&D) amounted to 3.1 trillion yuan, up 10.4 percent year on year, maintaining double-digit growth for seven consecutive years.

The role of innovation in technological development became more prominent, with the country’s ratio of R&D expenditure to GDP increasing to 2.55 percent in 2022, a rise of 0.12 percentage points.

The investment led to fruitful results. The total number of valid invention patents in China had reached 4.21 million by the end of 2022, taking first place globally, Sheng said.


Against a backdrop of flagging global economic recovery and a more volatile global financial market, China has steadily advanced institutional opening-up, retaining its appeal for foreign companies and investors, according to Sheng.

In 2022, China saw the total trade in goods reach 42.1 trillion yuan, up 7.7 percent year on year. It was the first time the figure had exceeded 40 trillion yuan, making a new breakthrough on a high base, Sheng said.

Foreign direct investment into the Chinese mainland, in actual use, expanded 6.3 percent year on year in 2022, serving as evidence to suggest that China is still a magnet for foreign investment, according to Sheng.

While warning of mounting uncertainties ahead, Sheng said that “the strong resilience, great potential and robust vitality of the Chinese economy have not changed.”

The country has the foundation, confidence and ability to fend off various sorts of risks and challenges, he added.


China is still considered one of the most attractive destinations for investment with more companies planning to reinvest in China this year, according to a report released Monday by the American Chamber of Commerce in South China (AmCham South China).

The chamber’s annual white paper on China’s business environment is seen as a window for observing China’s business environment through the eyes of foreign-funded enterprises. The white paper was based on a survey of more than 200 companies from September to December 2022. Among the surveyed businesses, 40 percent are wholly foreign-owned companies, and nearly 20 percent are representative offices of foreign companies and joint ventures.

The report showed that more than 90 percent of the participating companies select China as one of the most important investment destinations.

More than half of the companies gained over 30 percent of their global revenue from China, and 45 percent registered a significant or slight increase in their revenue from China last year, according to the report.

China has been among the world’s fastest-growing economies with one of the most dynamic markets. Although its economy is shadowed somewhat by uncertainty caused by the pandemic, most companies still consider China a critical part of their future strategic development plans, and 75 percent of the participating companies plan to reinvest in China in 2023, an increase of around 3 percent, said the report.

With more than 2,300 members, AmCham South China provides support for American and international companies doing business in south China.

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S. Jack Heffernan Ph.D. Economist at Knightsbridge holds a Ph.D. in Economics and brings with him over 25 years of trading experience in Asia and hands on experience in Venture Capital, he has been involved in several start ups that have seen market capitalization over $500m and 1 that reach a peak market cap of $15b. He has managed and overseen start ups in Crypto, Mining, Shipping, Technology and Financial Services.