The Times view on China's slowdown in economic growth: Chinese Medicine

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In the midst of a complex external environment, China's economy has ended 2018 on firm footing, with better quality and improved structure.

China's economy grew 6.6 percent in 2018, its slowest pace since 1990, amid trade tensions with the US, local media reported.

The 6.6 per cent is above the official target of around 6.5 per cent, according to the data published the NBS.

The demographics stand to fuel concerns about China's economy, which is on a long-term slowing trajectory even as signs of stabilisation suggest efforts to cushion its deceleration are taking hold.

The trade war with the U.S. has added to the gloomy outlook.

"The trade war is now making itself felt above all in growing uncertainty", said China expert Max Zenglein from the Mercator Institute. China's growth data are generally taken with a fairly large grain of salt with many analysts, both within China and externally, regarding them as overstated.

The official figures out Monday showed the weakest quarterly growth rate since the global financial crisis.

Chinese leaders have been warning that any recovery would be "L-shaped", meaning that companies and investors shouldn't expect growth to rebound to the previous decade's double-digit levels.

That 6.9% figure was released almost a year ago and western analysts are suspicious that it was suddenly trimmed just before the release of what was expected to be a set of weak figures - which they were.

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The currency fell more than 5 percent in 2018, and at one point had looked set break through a decade-low of 7 per dollar.

"Sceptics will be forgiven for questioning whether NBS is trying to smooth GDP growth by shifting some of the recent weakness into the 2017 figures", said Julian Evans-Pritchard of Capital Economics in a note.

Donald Trump's tariffs on Chinese exports have not directly damaged GDP growth, the trade had instead hit hard at sentiment, triggering a slowdown in consumer spending and investment.

The National Bureau of Statistics projected that the economic growth curve will continue stable and within a reasonable range in 2019 because a massive rebound in domestic consumption, the technology sector and innovations is expected. While credit has been eased, the move has failed to lift fixed asset investment which grew by 5.9 percent past year, a significant drop from the 7.2 percent growth recorded in 2017.

Retail sales increased by nine percent in 2018 year-on-year, down from 10.2 per cent in 2017, the NBS said.

His renewed determination comes as China increasingly displays an eagerness to come to terms with the president, saying now it is willing to work to eradicate the trade imbalance that has tilted so lopsidedly in its favor over the years.

Consumer price index rose 2.1 percent year on year in 2018, achieving the government's target of capping consumer inflation below 3 percent.

International Monetary Fund chief economist Gita Gopinath said that while the downward revisions were modest, "we believe the risks to more significant downward corrections are rising".

Adding to the gloom was the trade conflict with Washington. Both countries have slapped billions of dollars worth of tariffs on each other's goods and are now negotiating a deal to end the dispute. But they contracted in December as the penalties began to depress USA demand.

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