China's economy expanded at a record rate in the first quarter, up 18.3 percent from a year ago, as the rebound from the coronavirus slump accelerated, according to official data released on Friday.
The increase in GDP was smaller than the 19 percent predicted by economists in a Reuters survey and came after a 6.5 percent increase in the fourth quarter of last year. It was the fastest growth rate since official quarterly records began in 1992.
Global vaccination advances, robust exports, and government support have helped China's economy recover from last year's COVID-19-induced paralysis.
According to a Reuters survey, the world's second-largest economy will grow 8.6% this year, up from 2.3 percent last year, which was the lowest in 44 years but still made China the only major economy to escape contraction.
However, as the low comparison base seen in the first half of last year fades, there are concerns that China will be unable to maintain its rapid expansion.
The National Bureau of Statistics reported that GDP increased by 0.6 percent in January-March, compared to estimates of 1.5 percent and a revised 3.2 percent gain in the previous quarter.