HONG KONG–China reported third-quarter economic growth data of 6.8 percent, in line with forecasts, although slowing from the second quarter’s 6.9 percent expansion, government records showed Thursday.
The economic data comes a day after the kick-off of the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party, a twice-a-decade summit that reshuffles the country’s leadership, and a lengthy speech from Xi Jinping outlining his vision called “socialism with Chinese characteristics for a new era.”
Xi did not outline a specific target economic growth number, unlike his predecessor Hu Jintao, who promised to double GDP by 2020. Instead, Xi promised to reach a “moderately prosperous society” in three years time, mentioning environmental pollution concerns and the need to address financial risks. He also reiterated sentiments on punishing corruption, a key campaign he instigated when he first took power in 2012, sending luxury sales in China into a nosedive.
Although third quarter GDP slowed slightly, the pace of expansion is still on track to beat the government’s full year target of 6.5 percent and could surpass 2016’s growth of 6.7 percent.
Retail sales in September grew 10.3 percent year over year, accelerating from 10.1 percent in August. Judging by the indicators from the National Day Golden Week holiday, which took place October 1 to 8, that strong streak is likely to continue. The country registered total spending during that key holiday on retail and food services of 1.5 trillion renminbi, or $226 billion at current exchange, up 10. 3 percent year over year, according to the Ministry of Commerce.