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Asia

China posts lowest growth in over a decade

China's economy has expanded at its slowest pace in 13 years. But statisticians have also found an uptick in the final quarter of 2012, indicating that the country may be a prime driver for global economic recovery.

China's economy grew 7.8 percent last year, the National Bureau of Statistics reported on Friday. The world's second-biggest economy thus logged its slowest pace of expansion in 13 years.

Although being head and shoulder above the minimal rises seen in much of Europe and the US, China's 2012 rate was not particularly high for a developing nation of its size and potential. Economists claim only growth rates of over 6 to 7 percent can create jobs in China and tackle its development problems successfully.

Curbing economic growth in 2012 had been a marked rise in inflation that restricted the central bank from pumping more resources into the economy to boost output. Another factor had been sluggish demand from crisis-stricken Europe and particularly the 17-member single-currency eurozone and uneven US economic recovery.

Moderate improvement in sight

The statistics office provided some good news, too, reporting a growth uptick for the final quarter of last year when the economy expanded by 7.9 percent, following a string of government stimulus measures.

"But the international economic environment remains complicated this year and there are still unbalanced conflicts in the Chinese economy," NBS chief Ma Jiantang told reporters.

Nonetheless, optimism has been growing among analysts that China will pick up steam in the current year, although they warn that the improvement will most likely not be dramatic in the months ahead.

hg/rc (dpa, AFP)