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Last Updated: Wednesday, 25 January 2006, 08:15 GMT
China's economy continues to soar
Goods about to be shipped from Shanghai
Cheap exports have fuelled China's enormous trade surplus
China's economy maintained its stellar growth last year, official figures have confirmed, expanding 9.9% in 2005.

Growth has now been about 10% for three consecutive years and the economy shows no signs of slowing despite government efforts to restrain it.

Total economic output rose to 18.2 trillion yuan ($2.25 trillion) as soaring exports fuelled the country's growing trade surplus.

Experts said China may now be the world's fourth-largest economy.

Economic stability

China's economy recently overtook Italy, in terms of size, and may also have leapfrogged the United Kingdom and France, analysts said.

The latest growth figures were stronger than were initially expected.

It looks like the economy is like a supertanker
Stephen Green, Standard Chartered

The Chinese authorities have sought to control growth in state-run industries, such as construction, which have largely driven China's economic boom.

However, much of the recent expansion in the Chinese economy has come from the private sector in areas such as services and banking.

"The figures show that the national economic situation was fairly good in 2005," said Li Deshui, commissioner of the National Bureau of Statistics.

"In particular, the stability of the economic performance was strengthened to some extent and progress was seen in more balanced development."

China's trade surplus nearly tripled to just under $102bn.

The surplus is a source of concern to the United States, in particular, which has accused China of keeping the value of its currency artificially low in order to boost exports.

Growth momentum

One analyst described the Chinese economy as a "supertanker".

"The brakes were applied very gently in 2004 with those macro controls, then constrained credit growth, yuan appreciation," said Stephen Green, senior economist at Standard Chartered.

"All these things should slow the economy down. But as a supertanker, it has got so much momentum behind it."

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21 Nov 05 |  Business

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