A surge in industrial activity has pushed up China’s annual economic growth rate to 6.9% in the first quarter, according to government statistics released on Monday. Growth for the first three months of 2017 came in above Chinese premier Li Keqiang’s prediction that full year growth would be around 6.5%. Industrial production for March rose 7.6% compared with the same month last year, surpassing expectations of 6.3% growth, while retail sales for the month jumped 10.9%. Fixed asset investment in the first quarter expanded 9.2%, beating forecasts of 8.8%. According to the Financial Times, China has kept growth relatively robust thanks in part to rising levels of corporate debt, with credit continuing to grow at more than twice the rate of the underlying economy. The country’s overall indebtedness is creeping towards 300%, most of it concentrated in the corporate sector.
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