BEIJING – China grew at its slowest pace in 31/2 years, the latest sign that the nation long famed for its economic miracle is still struggling to pull out of a steeper-than-expected slide.
The Chinese economy expanded 7.4 percent in the three months ended in September compared with the same period a year ago. That’s a tick below the full-year growth target of 7.5 percent and the lowest quarterly performance since the country grew 6.6 percent in the first three months of 2009.
By comparison, China grew 7.6 percent in the second quarter and 8.1 percent in the first quarter. Chinese growth has now weakened for seven consecutive quarters.
The slowdown in China is already rippling across the globe, sinking demand for commodities and eating away at profits for multinational corporations such as Coca-Cola and Caterpillar.
Though the country’s growth is robust compared with other major economies, it’s a far cry from the double-digit pace that had been the norm in the three decades during which the world’s most populous country transformed itself to an economic juggernaut. Analysts say China is now at a crossroads, in need of difficult reforms to encourage more domestic consumption, larger household incomes and higher-value industry.
That will take years, and until then, the country will remain vulnerable to the ebb and flow of export demand.