Despite Beijing's persistent claims that the government's efforts to slow economic expansion were working, 2004 GDP growth outpaced 2003's, rising to 9.5%, to RMB 13.65trn (US$1.6trn), compared to 9.3% in 2003
But there was a lot of silver lining in these newsy dark clouds. The fourth quarter kicker was growth in agriculture – lifted by a record grain harvest – and services. Heavy industry, the target of slow-growth policies, was not responsible for pushing figures up.
The construction sector, indeed, was so slow that vendors at a January heavy equipment auction in Guangdong – billed as China's first international auction in the heavy lifting segment – complained of a dearth of mainland buyers. Most reportedly came from Taiwan, Hong Kong and elsewhere.
Two thousand and four brought the biggest year-on-year GDP increase in eight years. Fourth quarter YOY growth hit the same 9.5% – and that was up from 9.1% YOY growth in the third quarter, the National Bureau of Statistics said.
NBS Commissioner Li Deshui, quoted in China Daily, said the autumn grain harvest, which typically accounts for 60% of annual yield, helped push the year's output up to 336.35bn kilos, increasing annual production by 10.3% over 2003. Service industry growth was largely buoyed by restaurants, transport and postal services, which reported sharp rises in the last quarter. NBS data also showed FDI for the year totaled US$60.6bn. And that trade topped US$1.15trn.