(17 April 2020)  Chinese GDP contracted 6.8 percent in the first quarter of 2020 according to China's National Bureau of Statistics. While it is the first decline in the history of quarterly GDP growth records, which date back to 1993, annual GDP, which has a longer history, dropped below zero once before in 1976. It is still unclear whether the Chinese economy will register a decline at the end of 2020. According to the IMF's latest World Economic Outlook, China is among the critical few economies that are still projected to grow in 2020.


China's rapid economic downturn is tied to the Coronavirus pandemic and associated measures to suppress it. In absolute terms, China lost around $242 billion in GDP in the first quarter, well above the $125 billion of expected loss estimated by the World Bank.

  • In the previous two quarters, China's economy grew at 6 percent year-on-year, a slight drop from 6.2 percent in the second quarter of 2019 and, more notably, a nearly 30 year low. Not even during the global financial crisis of 2008-2009 did China’s GDP growth rate fall below 6.4 percent.
  • The economic slowdown in the third quarter of 2019 was in part attributed to the trade war with the United States, which hurt Chinese exports. In 2019, export growth halted and slipped into negative rates, whereas 2018 boasted 10 percent export growth year-over-year.

The decline in exports and expectations from the trade war chilled investment, employment, and household consumption in China, the strength of which to date has sustained the country's economic growth. But in current conditions under 'the Great Lockdown', Chinese consumers cannot support the economy, and, as a result, we see the decline of the world's largest economy. China's economic troubles will likely extend beyond the first quarter not only because of COVID-19 but also because of financial structural problems, such as high debt levels, decelerating real estate market, and unproductive use of capital.


Read more on Evidence for Chinese Economic Recession in our Insights blog.

Связанные Insights от Knoema

The World's Largest Economy: China vs United States

Which is the world's largest economy, China or the United States? As is usual in the field of economics, “It depends.” It depends on the methods used to estimate the size of an economy and to compare one economy to another. Despite modern discussions on refining the calculation of gross domestic product (GDP), the standard measure of an economy’s size and performance, to be more inclusive of economic factors that have been ignored to date, such as environmental and natural resource depletion, there is no commonly accepted alternative to GDP. There are, however, at least two commonly...

China Trade Data | Latest Official Statistics

(October 2019) China and the United States reached a partial trade deal on Friday, October 11, with the US agreeing to forgo further tariff escalation in exchange for China agreeing to resume purchases of US farm products. However, even if trade terms improve between the countries, recent preliminary figures released by China's customs office suggest Chinese exports hurt by the trade war will need time to recover to 2018 levels. Since the beginning of 2019, China exported $348 billion to the United States, 11.3 percent less than during the same period of 2018.China's exports...

When will India have more people than China?

The population of China currently exceeds the population of India by approximately 70 million, according to estimates from the United Nations. The UN's World Population Prospects report puts the population of China at 1.38 billion, compared to 1.31 billion for India. Other sources' estimates of current population range from 1.37 to 1.40 billion for China and from 1.28 to 1.31 billion for India. Just as current population estimates differ, so do forecasts as to when the difference in the population between the two countries will level off. According to the United Nations',...

China: Is Pork a Barrier to Economic Stimulus?

(September 2019) Pork prices in China have increased 82 percent over the last year, presenting an unconventional potential threat to the monetary easing policy Beijing announced earlier this month.​ According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs of China, the growth rate of pork prices is accelerating: before this month's wild increase, the average price of pork jumped 19.3 percent year-on-year in July and 47.6 percent in August as the African swine flu ​outbreak ​further diminished pig stocks to only 39 percent of the​ inventory one year ago. Prices for other meats​,​...