Ning Jizhe (C), head of the National Bureau of Statistics, speaks at a press conference held by the State Council Information Office on China's economy in 2017 in Beijing, capital of China, Jan. 18, 2018. (Xinhua/Li Xin)
BEIJING, Jan. 18 (Xinhua) -- China's economy ended 2017 on strong footing with a better-than-expected growth rate and improved structure, official data showed Thursday.
The world's second largest economy expanded 6.9 percent year-on-year in 2017, higher than the 6.7 percent growth registered in 2016, data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showed.
The reading marked the first acceleration in the annual growth pace in seven years and was well above the official target of around 6.5 percent.
"Major macroeconomic indicators all beat market expectations, pointing to economic stabilization," said Ning Jizhe, head of the NBS.
Growth in the fourth quarter came in at 6.8 percent, unchanged from the rate seen in the third quarter.
Gross domestic product (GDP) totaled 82.71 trillion yuan (about 12.84 trillion U.S. dollars) in 2017, with the service sector accounting for more than half of the total.
Consumption was the major growth driver, contributing 58.8 percent to GDP growth last year.
The strong growth was also helped by robust trade, which reversed a downward trend seen in the previous two years and contributed about 9 percent to GDP expansion in 2017.
A breakdown of the data showed improved economic structure, with new growth drivers emerging and outdated capacity fading.
New-energy vehicles, industrial robots, solar power and integrated circuit outshone most other industries in terms of output, growing 51.1 percent, 68.1 percent, 38 percent and 18.2 percent, respectively, year on year, contributing to a pick-up in industrial output growth in 2017.
On the other hand, mining and cement sectors saw their output decline 1.5 percent and 0.2 percent, respectively, while the textile and coal industries only grew 4 percent and 3.2 percent, respectively.
The data also showed strong consumption potential in rural areas, with retail sales surging 11.8 percent last year, outpacing the 10 percent rate in urban areas.
Private investment reached 38.15 trillion yuan, up 6 percent year on year, 2.8 percentage points faster than the previous year, accounting for 60.4 percent of the total investment.