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Asia Economy Last Updated: Jan 21, 2015 - 2:14 PM

China's growth in 2014 fell to a 24-year low
By Michael Hennigan, Finfacts founder and editor
Jan 20, 2015 - 7:36 AM

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China's Institute of City Competitiveness (CICC) recently released a list of the most beautiful counties in China for the year 2014. The counties are credited for their excellence in planning and design, historical landscape, good maintenance of ancient sites, rich cultural heritage, beautiful natural scenery and a high reputation among the public. The CICC committee also used 85 indicators of three levels in the comprehensive selection process. No. 1: Yangshuo County, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region (above: Source: en.people.cn)

China's economy grew 7.4% in 2014, in line with market expectations, registering the weakest expansion since 1990 - 24 years ago, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said Tuesday.

The reading was slightly below the government target of around 7.5% for the year, as the authorities responded to putting the  economy on a more sustainable track while tackling a housing slowdown, softening domestic demand and weak global recovery.

Last year, the country's gross domestic product (GDP) reached ¥63.65tn yuan (US$10.4tn). Growth in the fourth quarter came in at 7.3%, flat with the rate seen in the third.

The US economy is valued at $17.5tn.

"The economy is maintaining steady operation under the new normal, with positive trends of stable growth, optimized structure, enhanced quality and improved social welfare," noted Ma Jiantang, head of the NBS at a press conference, as reported by Xinhua, the official news agency.

In 2014, China's industrial output grew 8.3%, down from the 9.7% growth seen in 2013, while growth of China's fixed-asset investment slowed to 15.7%. Retail sales went up 12% to 26.24 trillion yuan, the NBS data showed.

In terms of GDP per capita, the IMF ranks China 89th in the world, with a population roughly as wealthy as that of Peru or the Maldives, according to the Financial Times.

“It is very hard to work out the true value of non-traded goods and services across different economies and anyway it is pretty unimportant which economy is the largest overall,” said Gerard Burg, senior economist for Asia at the National Australia Bank, as reported by the FT. “The per capita approach is far more insightful [than the purchasing power measure] when comparing the relative wealth of different economies.”

Chinese shares rose on the news, a day after their largest one-day drop in more than six years following a crackdown on margin trading.

The IMF on Monday forecast 6.8% growth for China in 2015, a number below the 7.0% target economists expect Beijing to set.

“The housing slowdown is more serious than we thought earlier,” said Olivier Blanchard, IMF chief economist, in an interview.

Others are even more downbeat. Oxford Economics forecasts 6.5% and says it expects this year will be the last time China’s growth exceeds 6%.

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