The world’s second biggest economy expanded 6.6% in 2018, according to official data published Monday. That’s the weakest annual performance since 1990.
Growth slowed to 6.4% in the fourth quarter of last year, in line with economist’s predictions.
The Chinese economy has lost momentum following government efforts to try to rein in high levels of debt. It has also started feeling the effects of the trade war with the United States, which has resulted in new tariffs on more than $250 billion of Chinese exports.
The weakness has spooked investors in recent weeks and prompted warnings from top companies like Apple (AAPL).
China’s economic growth is expected to drop closer to 6% in 2019. But many analysts are skeptical about the accuracy of the government figures and say growth may be significantly lower in reality.
Stimulating the economy
Plenty of other indicators have been flashing red. In December, Chinese exports suffered a surprise decline, while annual car sales fell in 2018 for the first time in around 20 years.
Beijing this month announced 1.3 trillion yuan ($193 billion) worth of new measures designed to stimulate the economy, including tax cuts for small businesses and reduced tariffs. It’s the latest in a flurry of government efforts to prop up growth, such as boosting infrastructure spending and loosening monetary policy.
But experts question whether Beijing’s measures will be enough to return the economy to strong growth anytime soon.