SCIO briefing on China's economic performance in 2023
Beijing | 10 a.m. Jan. 17, 2024

The State Council Information Office held a press conference Wednesday in Beijing on China's economic performance in 2023.


Kang Yi, commissioner of the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS)

Wang Guanhua, spokesperson of the NBS


Shou Xiaoli, deputy director general of the Press Bureau of the State Council Information Office (SCIO) and spokesperson of the SCIO

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Mr. Kang Yi, commissioner of the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) 

Ms. Wang Guanhua, spokesperson of the NBS


Ms. Shou Xiaoli, deputy director general of the Press Bureau of the State Council Information Office (SCIO) and spokesperson of the SCIO


Jan. 17, 2024

Shou Xiaoli:

Ladies and gentlemen, good morning. Welcome to this press conference held by the State Council Information Office (SCIO). This is a regular briefing on China's economic data. Today, we have invited Mr. Kang Yi, commissioner of the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) and Ms. Wang Guanhua, spokesperson of the NBS, to brief you on China's economic performance in 2023, and to take your questions.

Now, let's give the floor to Mr. Kang for his introduction.

Kang Yi:

Thank you, Ms. Shou. Friends from the media, good morning. First, I would like to brief you on China's economic performance of 2023. 

In 2023, the Chinese economy showed positive recovery momentum and made steady progress in pursuing high-quality development. In 2023, faced with complex and grave international environment as well as arduous tasks to advance reform, promote development and maintain stability at home, under the strong leadership of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core, all regions and departments strictly implemented the decisions and arrangements made by the CPC Central Committee and the State Council, adhered to the general principle of seeking progress while maintaining stability, fully and faithfully applied the new development philosophy on all fronts, accelerated efforts to foster a new pattern of development, comprehensively deepened reform and opening up, strengthened macro regulation, and redoubled efforts to expand domestic demand, optimize structure, boost confidence and prevent and defuse risks. As a result, the national economy witnessed the momentum of recovery, supply and demand improved steadily, transformation and upgrades were advanced solidly, employment and prices were generally stable, people's well-being was robustly and effectively guaranteed, steady progress was made in pursuing high-quality development, and major expected targets were well achieved.

According to preliminary estimates, the gross domestic product (GDP) was 126,058.2 billion yuan in 2023, an increase of 5.2% over the previous year at constant prices. By industries, the value added of the primary industry was 8,975.5 billion yuan, up by 4.1% over last year, that of the secondary industry was 48,258.9 billion yuan, up by 4.7% and that of the tertiary industry was 68,823.8 billion yuan, up by 5.8%. By quarter, the GDP for the first quarter went up by 4.5% year on year, up by 6.3% for the second quarter, 4.9% for the third quarter and 5.2% for the fourth quarter. The GDP increased by 1.0% quarter on quarter in the fourth quarter.

1. Grain output reached another record high and production of animal husbandry grew steadily.

The total output of grain in 2023 was 695.41 million tons, an increase of 8.88 million tons over the previous year, or up by 1.3%. Of this total, the output of summer grain was 146.15 million tons, down by 0.8%, and that of early rice was 28.34 million tons, up by 0.8%. The output of autumn grain reached 520.92 million tons, up by 1.9%. By species, the output of rice was 206.60 million tons, down by 0.9%; wheat, 136.59 million tons, down by 0.8%; corn, 288.84 million tons, up by 4.2%; and soybean, 20.84 million tons, up by 2.8%. The output of oil-bearing crops was 38.64 million tons, up by 5.7%. The total output of pork, beef, mutton and poultry in 2023 was 96.41 million tons, up by 4.5% over the previous year. Of this total, the output of pork was 57.94 million tons, up by 4.6%; beef, 7.53 million tons, up by 4.8%; mutton, 5.31 million tons, up by 1.3%; and poultry, 25.63 million tons, up by 4.9%. The production of milk reached 41.97 million tons, up by 6.7% and that of eggs stood at 35.63 million tons, up by 3.1%. In 2023, 726.62 million pigs were slaughtered, up by 3.8%, and 434.22 million pigs were registered in stock at the end of the year, down by 4.1%.

2. Industrial production recovered steadily and equipment manufacturing grew fast.

The total value added of industrial enterprises above the designated size increased by 4.6% over the previous year. In terms of sectors, the value added of mining was up by 2.3%, that of manufacturing up by 5.0% and that of production and supply of electricity, thermal power, gas and water up by 4.3%. The value added of equipment manufacturing went up by 6.8%, 2.2 percentage points faster than that of the industrial enterprises above the designated size. In terms of ownership, the value added of the state holding enterprises grew by 5.0%, that of the share-holding enterprises up by 5.3%, that of the enterprises funded by foreign investors and investors from Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan increased by 1.4% and that of private enterprises up by 3.1%. By products, the production of solar cells, new energy vehicles and power-generating units (power-generating devices) grew by 54.0%, 30.3% and 28.5%, respectively. In December, the total value added of the industrial enterprises above the designated size grew by 6.8% year on year, or up by 0.52% month on month. In the first eleven months, the total profits made by industrial enterprises above the designated size were 6,982.3 billion yuan, down by 4.4% year on year, of which the profits in November grew by 29.5%, registering growth for four consecutive months.

3. Service sector registered fast growth and contact-and-gathering-based services improved notably.

The value added of services went up by 5.8% over the previous year. The value added of accommodation and catering, information transmission, software and information technology services, leasing and business services, transportation, storage and postal services, financial intermediation, and wholesale and retail grew by 14.5%, 11.9%, 9.3%, 8.0%, 6.8% and 6.2%, respectively. In December, the Index of Services Production went up by 8.5% year on year, specifically, that of accommodation and catering and that of information transmission, software and information technology services grew by 34.8% and 13.8%, respectively. In the first eleven months, the business revenue of service enterprises above the designated size grew by 8.5% year on year, of which the business revenue of culture, sports and recreation, information transmission, software and information technology services and leasing and business services went up by 18.9%, 12.8% and 12.7%, respectively.

4. Market sales recovered rapidly and services consumption grew fast.

In 2023, the total retail sales of consumer goods reached 47,149.5 billion yuan, up by 7.2% over the previous year. Analyzed by different areas, the retail sales in urban areas reached 40,749.0 billion yuan, up by 7.1%; and the retail sales in rural areas stood at 6,400.5 billion yuan, up by 8.0%. Grouped by consumption patterns, the retail sales of goods were 41,860.5 billion yuan, up by 5.8%; and the income of catering was 5,289.0 billion yuan, up by 20.4%. The sales of basic living goods grew steadily, with the retail sales of clothes, shoes, hats and textiles, and that of grain, oil and food by enterprises above the designated size growing by 12.9% and 5.2%, respectively. The sales of upgraded goods grew fast, with the retail sales of gold, silver and jewelry, sports and recreational articles and communication equipment by enterprises above the designated size growing up by 13.3%, 11.2% and 7.0%, respectively. The national online retail sales reached 15,426.4 billion yuan, growing by 11.0% over the previous year. Specifically, the online retail sales of physical goods were 13,017.4 billion yuan, up by 8.4%, accounting for 27.6% of the total retail sales of consumer goods. In December, the total retail sales of consumer goods went up by 7.4% year on year, or a month-on-month growth of 0.42%. The retail sales of services in 2023 grew by 20.0% over that of the previous year.

5. Investment in fixed assets scaled up and investment in high-tech industries witnessed a good momentum of growth.

In 2023, the investment in fixed assets (excluding rural households) reached 50,303.6 billion yuan, up by 3.0% over the previous year, or up by 6.4% after deducting price factors. Specifically, the investment in infrastructure went up by 5.9%, manufacturing up by 6.5% and real estate development down by 9.6%. The floor space of commercial buildings sold reached 1,117.35 million square meters, down by 8.5%. The total sales of commercial buildings were 11,662.2 billion yuan, down by 6.5%. By industries, the investment in the primary industry went down by 0.1%; that in the secondary industry up by 9.0%; and that in the tertiary industry up by 0.4%. The private investment went down by 0.4%. Deducting the investment in real estate development, the private investment grew by 9.2%. The investment in high-tech industries grew by 10.3%, 7.3 percentage points faster than that of the total investment. Specifically, the investment in high-tech manufacturing and high-tech services grew by 9.9% and 11.4%, respectively. In terms of high-tech manufacturing, the investment in manufacturing of aerospace vehicle and equipment, manufacturing of computers and office devices and manufacturing of electronics and communication equipment grew by 18.4%, 14.5% and 11.1%, respectively. In terms of high-tech services, the investment in services for transformation of scientific and technological achievements and in e-commerce services went up by 31.8% and 29.2%, respectively. In December, the investment in fixed assets (excluding rural households) grew by 0.09% month on month.

6. Imports and exports of goods was generally stable and trade structure continued to optimize.

In 2023, the total value of imports and exports of goods was 41,756.8 billion yuan, an increase of 0.2% over the previous year. The total value of exports was 23,772.6 billion yuan, up by 0.6%; the total value of imports was 17,984.2 billion yuan, down by 0.3%. The trade balance was 5,788.4 billion yuan in surplus. The imports and exports by private enterprises grew by 6.3%, accounting for 53.5% of the total value of imports and exports, 3.1 percentage points higher than that of the previous year. The imports and exports with the Belt and Road partner countries grew by 2.8%, accounting for 46.6% of the total value of imports and exports, 1.2 percentage points higher than that of the previous year. The exports of mechanical and electrical products grew by 2.9%, accounting for 58.6% of the total value of exports. In December, the total value of imports and exports of goods was 3,809.8 billion yuan, up by 2.8% year on year. Specifically, the total value of exports was 2,175.4 billion yuan, up by 3.8%; the total value of imports was 1,634.5 billion yuan, up by 1.6%.

7. Consumer price grew mildly and core consumer price index (CPI) was generally stable.

In 2023, the CPI went up by 0.2% over the previous year. Grouped by commodity categories, prices for food, tobacco and alcohol grew by 0.3%; clothing grew by 1.0%; housing kept at the same level; articles and services for daily use grew by 0.1%; transportation and communication dropped by 2.3%; education, culture and recreation grew by 2.0%; medical services and health care grew by 1.1%; and other articles and services grew by 3.2%. In terms of food, tobacco and alcohol prices, prices for pork went down by 13.6%, fresh vegetables down by 2.6%, grain up by 1.0%, and fresh fruits up by 4.9%. Core CPI excluding the prices of food and energy went up by 0.7%. In December, the CPI went down by 0.3% year on year, or up by 0.1% month on month. In 2023, the producer prices for industrial products went down by 3.0% over the previous year; in December, it went down by 2.7% year on year, or down by 0.3% month on month. The purchasing prices for industrial producers went down by 3.6% over the previous year; in December, it went down by 3.8% year on year, or down by 0.2% month on month.

8. Employment was generally stable and surveyed unemployment rate in urban areas went down.

In 2023, the surveyed unemployment rate in urban areas averaged 5.2%, 0.4% percentage point lower than that of the previous year. In December, the surveyed unemployment rate in urban areas was 5.1%. The surveyed unemployment rate of population with local household registration was 5.2% and that of population with non-local household registration was 4.7%, of which the rate of population with non-local agricultural household registration was 4.3%. The surveyed unemployment rate of the population aged from 16 to 24, from 25 to 29, and from 30 to 59 (excluding students) registered 14.9%, 6.1% and 3.9%, respectively. The urban surveyed unemployment rate in 31 major cities was 5.0%. The employees of enterprises worked 49.0 hours per week on average. In 2023, the number of rural migrant workers totaled 297.53 million, 1.91 million more than that of the previous year, or up by 0.6%. Specifically, local migrant workers totaled 120.95 million, down by 2.2%; outside migrant workers totaled 176.58 million, up by 2.7%. The average monthly income of migrant workers was 4,780 yuan, up by 3.6% over the previous year.

9. Resident income continued to increase and income of rural residents grew faster than that of urban residents.

In 2023, the nationwide per capita disposable income of residents was 39,218 yuan, a nominal increase of 6.3% over that of the previous year, and a real increase of 6.1% after deducting price factors. In terms of permanent residence, the per capita disposable income of urban households was 51,821 yuan, a nominal growth of 5.1% over that of the previous year and a real growth of 4.8% after deducting price factors. The per capita disposable income of rural households was 21,691 yuan, a nominal growth of 7.7% over that of the previous year and a real growth of 7.6% after deducting price factors. The median of the nationwide per capita disposable income was 33,036 yuan, a nominal increase of 5.3% over that of the previous year. Grouped by income quintile, the per capita disposable income of low-income group reached 9,215 yuan, the lower-middle-income group 20,442 yuan, the middle-income group 32,195 yuan, the upper-middle-income group 50,220 yuan and the high-income group 95,055 yuan. In 2023, the nationwide per capita consumption expenditure was 26,796 yuan, a nominal growth of 9.2% over the previous year, or a real growth of 9.0% after deducting price factors. The per capita consumption expenditure on food, tobacco and alcohol accounted for 29.8% of the per capita consumption expenditure (Engel's coefficient), 0.7percentage point lower than that of the previous year. The per capita consumption expenditure on services went up by 14.4%, accounting for 45.2% of the per capita consumption expenditure, 2.0 percentage points higher than that of the previous year.

10. Total population declined and urbanization rate continued to grow.

By the end of 2023, the national population was 1,409.67 million (including the population of 31 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities and servicemen, but excluding residents of Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan and foreigners living in the 31 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities), a decrease of 2.08 million over that at the end of 2022. In 2023, the number of births was 9.02 million with a birth rate of 6.39 per thousand; the number of deaths was 11.10 million with a mortality rate of 7.87 per thousand; the natural population growth rate was minus 1.48 per thousand. In terms of gender, the male population was 720.32 million, and the female population was 689.35 million; the sex ratio of the total population was 104.49 (the female is 100). In terms of age structure, the population at the working age from 16 to 59 was 864.81 million, accounting for 61.3% of the total population; the population aged 60 and over was 296.97 million, accounting for 21.1% of the total population, specifically, the population aged 65 and over was 216.76 million, accounting for 15.4% of the total population. In terms of urban-rural structure, the permanent residents in urban areas were 932.67 million, an increase of 11.96 million over the end of the previous year; and the permanent residents in rural areas were 477.00 million, a decrease of 14.04 million. The share of urban population in the total population (urbanization rate) was 66.16%, 0.94 percentage point higher than that at the end of the previous year.

Generally speaking, with external pressure withstood and internal difficulties overcome in 2023, the national economy witnessed momentum of recovery, the high-quality development was advanced steadily, the major expected targets were well achieved, and solid strides were taken in building China into a modern socialist country in all respects. However, we must be aware that the external environment is increasingly complex, severe and uncertain, and the economic growth is still facing difficulties and challenges. At the next stage, we must take Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era as the guideline, fully implement the guiding principles of the 20th CPC National Congress and the second plenary session of the 20th CPC Central Committee as well as the arrangements made by the Central Economic Work Conference, fully and faithfully apply the new development philosophy on all fronts, and accelerate efforts to foster a new pattern of development. Focusing on the primary mission of high-quality development, we must follow the principle of seeking progress while maintaining stability, promoting stability through progress, and establishing the new before abolishing the old. We must intensify macro regulation, coordinate expanding domestic demand with deepening supply-side structural reform, ensure both new urbanization and rural revitalization across the board, and secure both high-quality development and high-level security. We must effectively enhance economic vitality, prevent and mitigate risks, improve social expectations, consolidate and boost the sound momentum of economic recovery and growth, in a bid to effectively upgrade the quality and appropriately expand the quantity of the national economy.

Next, I'll brief you on the improvements to the system of age-based, surveyed urban unemployment rate.

Highly valuing the improvement of the labor force survey system and considering suggestions from the public, the NBS organized in-depth discussions among relevant departments and experts, studied international standards as well as foreign practices and experiences, conducted field investigations, and carefully examined and studied the statistical methods and criteria for unemployment rates. In order to better reflect the youth employment and unemployment situation more fully and faithfully, two adjustments have been made to the age-grouped unemployment rate statistics based on a thorough consideration of the national conditions. The first is releasing the surveyed unemployment rate of those aged 16 to 24, and the second is releasing that of those aged 25 to 29, both excluding students. There are two reasons for the adjustments:

The first is to monitor the employment and unemployment status of young people in a more targeted manner. For each month on average in 2023, among the urban population aged 16 to 24 in China, nearly 62 million were students, accounting for more than 60% of the total; and around 34 million were not students, making up over 30% of the total. Considering our national conditions, the primary task of students is learning rather than engaging in part-time work. Including students in age groups would blur the distinction between those seeking part-time employment and graduates searching for jobs, failing to accurately reflect the employment situation of young individuals entering society and actually looking for jobs. Calculating the age-based unemployment rate excluding students helps provide a more precise depiction of the employment conditions of young people entering the workforce. This approach enables the provision of more accurate employment services and the formulation of more effective and targeted employment policies for non-students aged 16 to 24.

The second is to reflect the employment and unemployment situation of young people spanning the period from graduation to attainment of stable employment. With the continuous increase in the length of schooling for young individuals in China, the nation's current gross enrollment rate in higher education stands at nearly 60%. At the age of 24, most young people have just graduated and are in the midst of navigating career choices, with some being unemployed or facing job instability. By the age of 29, the majority have passed through the phase of career decision-making, with their employment tending to stabilize. There is a deep public concern regarding the employment status of young people right after graduation and for some time after their graduation. Therefore, the NBS has added calculations and release of the unemployment rate for the labor force aged 25-29.

Going forward, the NBS will release the unemployment rates for groups aged 16 to 24, 25 to 29 and 30 to 59 each month, excluding students. The data can be accessed via the NBS's database.

That's all for my briefing. Now I'm ready to take your questions.

Shou Xiaoli:

Thank you, Mr. Kang. The floor is now open for questions. Please identify the news outlet you work for before raising questions. 


Beijing Youth Daily:

In 2023, we faced multiple challenges: the global economic recovery was sluggish; at home, we got through frequent natural disasters and took on strenuous tasks in advancing reforms, promoting development, and maintaining stability. How was China's general economic performance? Did we realize the main objectives and tasks last year? Thank you.

Kang Yi:

Thank you for your questions. We have just detailed the overall economic performance of the whole year. Generally speaking, China has accomplished the major targets set for 2023 and seen a solid rebound and improvements in economic performance. Last year, the national economy witnessed the momentum of recovery, and achieved good results through high-quality development, and this hasn't been easy. 

First, the economy sustained the momentum of recovery. Last year, in terms of economic growth, China's GDP surpassed 126 trillion yuan, with the growth rate 2.2 percentage points higher than 2022. The trend of improvement was further strengthened, showing a lower curve in the early months, rising in the middle of the year, and then remaining at higher levels for the rest of the year. As calculated at comparable prices, the economic increment exceeded 6 trillion yuan in 2023, equivalent to the economic aggregate of a medium-sized country. The per capita GDP increased steadily and reached 89,358 yuan in 2023, up 5.4% from the previous year. Employment improved across the board. The surveyed urban unemployment rate fell by 0.4 percentage points in comparison to the previous year. Employment of migrant workers saw a remarkable improvement. Overall, prices posted a modest growth. The yearly CPI rose by 0.2%, and the core CPI by 0.7%. In terms of international balance of payment, annual export goods increased by 0.6%, and the year-end foreign exchange reserves surpassed $3.2 trillion. 

Second, we achieved sound development. Last year, we coordinated efforts to effectively upgrade the quality and appropriately expand economic output. The whole country prioritized high-quality development and gained increasing economic advantages through restructuring, transformation, and upgrading. High-quality development has been consolidated. The strategy to drive development through innovation was implemented thoroughly. Investment in innovation steadily increased. According to preliminary calculations, the nationwide R&D spending reached 3.32782 trillion yuan in 2023, accounting for 2.64% of GDP, up 0.08 percentage points from the previous year. Throughout the year, we achieved many significant scientific and technological innovations, with the manufacturing sector steadily growing more advanced, intelligent, and eco-friendly. The economic structure was optimized and upgraded. The service sector and consumption played stronger roles as the main driver of growth. In 2023, the service sector's added value accounted for 54.6% of the GDP, up 1.2 percentage points from the previous year. Final consumption expenditure contributed to 82.5% of total economic growth, up 43.1 percentage points from the previous year. The foundations of secured development have been further consolidated. Grain yield increased 1.3% from the previous year, raw coal 2.9%, crude oil 2%, and natural gas 5.8%. We secured the bottom line to prevent systematic risks, safeguard financial and economic safety, and better ensure people's livelihoods. The per capita disposable income realized an year-on-year growth of 6.1% in real terms. 

Third, China's growth ranked top among major economies. To assess the economic performance of China, we should compare it not only to previous years but also to other countries. In 2023, China realized a 5.2% economic growth, higher than the 3% estimated global growth, and ranked top among major economies around the world. As the most significant driving force, China's economy is expected to contribute more than 30% of the global economic growth. Meanwhile, as global trade is predicted to decrease, we realized a small growth in exports, maintaining a stable global market share. The CPI rose mildly, a strong contrast to the high inflation rates worldwide and the fact that some other countries struggled to control inflation and maintain growth. 

Fourth, all this hasn't been an easy feat. You wouldn't know how difficult it was unless you were there. In 2023, the world economy was sluggish, the international situation was complicated and evolving, and many geopolitical conflicts broke out. The external environment was increasingly intricate, stern, and uncertain. Domestically, we endured many cyclical and structural problems and experienced frequent natural disasters. Considering this, it is truly remarkable that we made these achievements possible. We owe our achievements to the strong leadership of the CPC Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core, the sound guidance of Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, and the concerted efforts of the Chinese people forging ahead with enterprise and fortitude. Our achievements are commendable and it is important to fully recognize their value. 

Looking ahead into 2024, we should also be aware of the complicated and challenging external environment, the lack of effective domestic demand, industries with overcapacity, weak public expectation, and many risks and hidden dangers. We still need to overcome some difficulties and challenges to further advance the recovery of China's economy. We will act upon the decisions and plans of the Central Economic Work Conference, take effective measures to cope with these difficulties and problems, and continue to make steady and sustained progress in the Chinese economy. Thank you.


Global Times: 

Could the speaker talk about how much the three major demands contributed to and drove economic growth in the fourth quarter and throughout 2023? Were there any new changes? And I would also like to know how the paradigm of "dual circulation" of domestic and international markets developed over the past year? Thank you.

Kang Yi: 

Thank you for your questions. Your questions concern two aspects. One concerns the three major demands, and the other is about "dual-circulation." First, I'll answer your first question about the contribution and the driving force of the three major demands. In 2023, China's final consumption expenditure, gross capital formation, and net exports of goods and services drove the economic growth by 4.3 percentage points, 1.5 percentage points, and -0.6 percentage point, respectively, and contributed 82.5%, 28.9%, and -11.4% to the economic growth, respectively. In the fourth quarter, final consumption expenditure, gross capital formation, and net exports of goods and services drove economic growth by 4.2 percentage points, 1.2 percentage points, and -0.2 percentage point and contributed 80%, 23.1%, and -3.1% to the economic growth.

The second question concerns the progress in "dual circulation" of domestic and international markets. It should be said that new progress has been made in building the new development paradigm in 2023. There are three features:

First, the role of domestic circulation as the mainstay has been reinforced. Based on the strategic underpinning of expanding domestic demand, and with the potential of a massive domestic market in China unleashed, domestic circulation has played an increasingly important role in driving economic growth. In 2023, China's total retail sales of consumer goods reached 47.1 trillion yuan, and fixed asset investment stood at 50.3 trillion yuan. Domestic consumption contributed 111.4% to economic growth, an increase of 25.3 percentage points from the previous year. We have been working hard to build a unified national market, open up the blockages in the domestic circulation, and smooth all links of production, distribution, circulation, and consumption, with the flow of factors becoming more active and the linkage between production and sales gradually getting better. In the fourth quarter, the industrial capacity utilization rate was 75.9%, a 0.2 percentage point increase on a year-on-year basis; the sales ratio of industrial enterprises above designated size remained stable at above 97%. The annual commercial freight volume increased by 8.2%, and the commercial passenger volume increased by 66.5% year on year.

Second, the quality and level of international circulation have been further enhanced. Faced with the negative influences of shrinking external demand, China has redoubled efforts to promote the stability, scale, and structure of foreign trade, with positive growth achieved in exports. Compared with other countries, China did better than major export-oriented economies, and the international market share remained generally stable. In 2023, the export volume of goods rose by 0.6% over the previous year, and the proportion of imports and exports of both general trade and private enterprises increased. At the same time, China has also been actively expanding international economic and trade cooperation and enhancing high-quality Belt and Road cooperation. China has become a major trading partner of more than 140 countries and regions, and international circulation has become wider and deeper. In 2023, the total volume of imports and exports between China and BRI partner countries increased by 2.8% over the previous year.

Third, the domestic and international markets have reinforced each other. The advantages of our supersized market have emerged, and expanding domestic demand has boosted imports. In 2023, the import volume of agricultural products, consumer goods, and energy products increased by 5%, 1.2%, and 27.2%, respectively, over the previous year. The advantages of a sound industrial system and stable production capacity have been brought into play. The steady increases in both the volume and quality of exports have also brought about the development of relevant domestic industries, contributing to a full economic recovery. In 2023, China's export volume of goods hit a record high. Among them, exports of mechanical and electrical products grew by 2.9% over the previous year. The export volume of the "new three" products, namely electric passenger vehicles, solar cells, and lithium-ion batteries, also topped the threshold of one trillion yuan for the first time, with an increase of 29.9%.

While positive progress has been made in "dual circulation" of domestic and international markets, we should also be aware that there are still impediments to domestic circulation. The global economy has been sluggish, and global industrial chains and supply chains have undergone profound changes, posing difficulties and challenges to circulation in the global economy. Next, we will take coordinated steps to expand domestic demands and deepen supply-side structural reform, pursue both high-quality development and high-level security, and promote both in-depth reform and high-level opening up to open up key bottlenecks restricting economic cycles and promote the mutual reinforcement between domestic and international circulations. Thank you.


Market News International:

Recent data shows that China's CPI was negative for the third consecutive month in December. What is the outlook for CPI and will the government take any measures to address the low-rate inflation? Thank you.

Kang Yi:

Thank you for your questions. The issue of prices is of great concern throughout society. Looking at the Overall, prices in China have maintained a moderate upward trend in 2023, with a 0.2% increase in annual CPI. As the reporter mentioned, CPI has fallen for three consecutive months. However, when analyzing this issue, it is crucial to consider not only the overall data but also the structural and cyclical aspects influencing the year-on-year decline in CPI over these months.

First, let's talk about structural aspects. Recently, the decline in prices is primarily due to the fall in food and energy prices. Excluding the impact of food and energy prices, the core CPI remains stable. This indicates that the decline in these prices is not universal or comprehensive but rather partial and structural. The decrease in food and energy prices is not solely a result of market supply and demand changes. Over the past two years, from 2022 to 2023, it has been influenced by non-economic and non-conventional factors. Let's talk about energy first. Energy prices, especially oil prices, have a relatively significant weight of in our country's CPI basket. In December 2023, energy prices dropped by 0.5%, while they increased by 5.2% in the same period the previous year. As everyone knows, energy prices were primarily affected by the Russia-Ukraine conflict, with a substantial increase in 2022 and a subsequent decline in 2023, resulting in a significant year-on-year downward pull. Let's turn to food next. In December 2023, food prices decreased by 3.7% compared to the same period in the previous year, when they increased by 4.8%. In December 2022, the main influence was the pandemic, causing disruptions in logistics and a general rise in food prices. As normal operations resumed, ample supply led to a natural decline in food prices compared with high levels in the previous year.

Second, the decline in CPI is temporary. Especially as China's economy continues to recover and improve, with steady income growth for residents and an expansion of total demand domestically, there is a foundation and conditions for the upward movement of commodity and service prices. With the approaching Spring Festival holiday, there is also an increase in food consumption demand. Service consumptions such as dining out, visiting relatives and friends, and tourism are increasing, which will all help to boost the seasonal rebound in CPI. From a monthly perspective, CPI rose by 0.1% in December 2023. In early January 2024, according to data, some food prices have maintained a stable and slightly rising trend. Besides supply and demand, prices are also influenced by expectations. Recent developments indicate a marginal recovery in both enterprise and resident confidence. In December, the manufacturing production and operation outlook index for activities reached 55.9%, and the non-manufacturing business operation outlook index reached 60.3%, both are in a relatively high range for prosperity. In the fourth quarter, the business prosperity index for enterprises above designated size was 109 points, an increase of 0.4 point from the previous quarter. The consumer confidence index in December increased by 0.6 point compared to the previous month.

Third, the low-level operation of prices also reflects issues such as insufficient effective demand. Insufficient effective demand is a phased phenomenon in our country as the economy gradually returns to a normal state after the three-year impact of the pandemic. Short-term insufficient demand can lead to a decline in prices. The central government attaches great importance to the issue of insufficient demand. The Central Economic Work Conference, while planning for the economic work in 2024, clearly emphasizes the need to focus on expanding domestic demand, promoting the shift of consumption from post-pandemic recovery to sustained expansion. It also specifies a series of concrete work directions. With the introduction and implementation of these policies from the Central Economic Work Conference, the issue of insufficient effective demand is expected to be gradually alleviated, and the stable rise of consumer prices is expected to stabilize and rebound accordingly. We predict that prices will rise moderately in 2024. Thank you.



High-quality development is the primary task in building a modern socialist country in all respects. How has China progressed in high-quality economic development, and what measures will be taken in the continuous promotion of high-quality economic development in the future? Thank you.

Kang Yi:

Thank you for your questions. High-quality development is a necessity in the new era and the top priority for building a modern socialist country in all respects. In 2023, various regions and departments have put great efforts into stabilizing economic operations, and there has been no relaxation in promoting high-quality development. China's economy has effectively achieved qualitative improvement and reasonable growth in quantity, making the path of high-quality development more resolute and robust. In summary, we can use five "furthers" to encapsulate the progress.

First, significant progress has been made in developing a modernized industrial system, accelerating the replacement of old growth drivers with new ones. A modernized industrial system is the essential foundation of high-quality development. All localities and government departments have modernized the industrial system through technological innovation and moved the manufacturing sector toward higher-end, smarter, and greener production. New drivers and strengths for development have been steadily fostered, and new progress has been made in building a modernized industrial system.

Second, we have deepened reform and opening up, unleashing new impetus for development. In 2023, China made every effort to build a unified national market and created a better development environment for private businesses. We continued to foster a world-class business environment that is market-oriented, law-based, and internationalized, giving fresh impetus and vitality to economic development. By the end of September 2023, there had been 181 million registered business entities across the country, including 122 million self-employed individuals. We also accelerated efforts to promote high-standard opening up, carried out international economic and trade exchanges and cooperation, pursued high-quality BRI cooperation, and successfully held a number of major trade events such as the China International Import Expo (CIIE), the China International Fair for Trade in Service, and the China Import and Export Fair. Imports and exports between China and other BRI countries increased by 2.8%. The annual intended turnover of the latest CIIE increased 6.7% compared to the previous edition.

Third, we have steadily advanced the transition to green, low-carbon development, which has resulted in further transformation of China's growth model. China has promoted economic development through green, low-carbon transformation, which accelerates the development of green production and a green lifestyle. We have actively built an energy sector that is clean, low-carbon, safe, and efficient, improving the energy consumption structure. Preliminary assessments indicate that in 2023, the proportion of non-fossil energy consumption to total energy consumption saw a 0.2 percentage point increase year on year. At the end of 2023, China's installed capacity of renewable power exceeded that of thermal power for the first time in history, accounting for more than 50% of the total installed capacity. The output of green and low-carbon products has increased rapidly. In 2023, the output of NEVs rose by 30.3% year on year. Both the output and the sales of NEVs ranked the top in the world. The exports of electric manned vehicles increased by 67.1%.

Fourth, robust and effective measures have been taken to ensure people's well-being and raise their living standards. Improving people's well-being is the fundamental goal of development. In 2023, the incomes of urban and rural residents grew steadily, public services and social security continued to improve, and weak links in areas important to people's lives were gradually shored up. All these efforts make the improvement of people's well-being a defining feature of high-quality development. Per capita disposable income grew by 6.1%. Transfer payments, including social relief and subsidies from the government, policy-backed living allowances, and policy-backed subsidies paid in cash to benefit farmers, increased by 10.3%. We have continued to increase inputs in areas important to people's well-being. Investments in the production and supply of electricity, heat, gas, and water increased by 23%, while agricultural investment increased by 9.3%. Both outpaced the growth of total investment.

Fifth, we have enhanced food and energy security to reinforce the foundation of China's development security. In 2023, China guaranteed safety through development and showed stronger performance on the basis of ensuring safety.

Of course, at the same time, we are also aware that China's economy is in a pivotal period in the transformation of its growth model, its structural improvement, and its shift to new growth drivers. There are still many difficulties and challenges to tackle on our way to promoting high-quality development. We will thoroughly implement the guiding principles of the Central Economic Work Conference and take high-quality development as what really matters in the new era. We will work to both pursue high-quality development and safeguard high-level security so as to effectively upgrade and appropriately expand China's economic output. By doing so, we will turn the grand blueprint of Chinese modernization into reality step by step. Thank you. 



I am also interested in the economic structure. My question is, how can China replace old growth drivers with new ones? I read in a report that sectors such as NEVs and solar cells have been growing rapidly. But how can you prevent possible overcapacity while making a big push to develop advanced manufacturing? Besides, in the face of insufficient domestic demand, will such rapid expansion of these sectors result in downward pressure on the prices and international trade friction? Thank you.

Wang Guanhua:

Thank you for your questions. I will respond from two perspectives.

First, regarding the transformation of growth drivers, high-quality development is characterized by the new development philosophy, with innovation being a priority among the five concepts. Upholding innovation-driven development and promoting the transformation of growth drivers are crucial tasks in achieving high-quality development. Regardless of the adjustment and transformation of traditional growth drivers, China will unswervingly press ahead with the transition of growth drivers. Mr. Kang highlighted the achievements of China's high-quality and innovation-driven development, and I would like to provide additional data. In 2023, the value added by the equipment manufacturing industry above designated size grew by 6.8%, playing a key role in the industry's steady recovery. According to a 2023 report by the World Intellectual Property Organization, China ranked 12th in the Global Innovation Index and is home to the world's largest number of the top 100 science and technology innovation clusters. New growth drivers have become an essential engine driving high-quality development. 

Second, last year witnessed the recovery of the national economy. Market demand and domestic demand recovered well, and we all gained firsthand experience of that. Demand played a greater role in driving economic growth, and the balance between supply and demand, as well as economic circulation, improved. I will provide you with several sets of data. In the fourth quarter, the product sales rate of industrial enterprises above designated size was over 97%, and in December, it was 98.4%. The capacity utilization rates in the four quarters of 2023 were 74.3%, 74.5%, 75.6%, and 75.9%, respectively, showing a recovering trend. This reflected improved market demand and capacity utilization. At the beginning of this year, ice and snow tourism and sports have gained popularity. This follows the trend of upgrading consumer spending and demonstrates the potential of domestic demand. Therefore, we are confident in the consumption market's recovery this year.

In general, China is still undergoing a crucial period of economic recovery, transformation and upgrading. Going forward, we will continue to act on the principles outlined at the Central Economic Work Conference, which are seeking progress while maintaining stability, promoting stability through progress, and establishing the new before abolishing the old. We will consolidate and strengthen the momentum of economic recovery and promote the effective improvement of quality and reasonable economic growth. Thank you.


The Straits Times: 

Last year, we saw the impact of real estate on the macroeconomy. Can the real estate market remain stable this year? Thank you.

Kang Yi:

Thank you for your question. The real estate sector has garnered widespread attention. At last year's press conference, I was asked about the trends and future development of the real estate industry. From our observations, the real estate market is undergoing a period of adjustment and transformation after more than 20 years of development. Under these circumstances, all regions and departments have made timely adjustments and optimized real estate policies in accordance with the new situation where the relationship between supply and demand in the real estate market has profoundly changed. Currently, the real estate market has seen positive changes in the following two aspects.

First, there was a decrease in the rate of decline for indicators such as real estate investment and sales. In 2023, investment in real estate development decreased 9.6%, narrowing by 0.4 percentage point from the previous year. The amount of funds raised by real estate developers in China fell 13.6% in 2023, with the rate of decline narrowing by 12.3 percentage points compared to the previous year. The decline in sales of commodity housing substantially narrowed as well. In 2023, the floor space of commercial buildings sold and the total sales in China declined 8.5% and 6.5% year on year, respectively. These decline rates narrowed by 15.8 and 20.2 percentage points, respectively. The number of online signings and registrations for newly built commercial residential buildings has increased since August, up 20.2 percentage points from August to December. In 70 large- and medium-sized cities, the transaction volume of new and secondhand homes achieved a gentle rise. Second, the completed area of housing increased rapidly. Efforts have been made to ensure the timely delivery of pre-sale housing, and the results have been positive. In 2023, the completed floor area by real estate developers increased by 17% from the previous year.

How do we foresee future trends in the real estate market? China's real estate market has a solid foundation for long-term and healthy development for these reasons:

Firstly, there is ample room for improvement in both the quantity and quality of urbanization. As we just reported, the urbanization rate in 2023 was 66.16%, which, compared to the approximately 80% in developed economies, indicates a potential improvement of over 10 percentage points. China's urbanization is still in continuous development, with an average annual increase of 0.93 percentage point over the past five years. With more than 10 million rural residents migrating to cities each year, the substantial influx of new citizens will create a significant demand for new housing. In terms of existing housing stock, while the per capita housing area in our country is already substantial, many houses have impractical functions and structures, leading to an urgent need for improved housing. This demand serves as a crucial driving force for the real estate market. The demand for improved housing is particularly apparent in the 70 major and medium-sized cities currently under observation. This is evidenced by the fact that the transaction volume of second-hand houses in these 70 cities has already exceeded that of new houses.

Secondly, there is enormous potential to establish a new model of real estate development. The active construction of a new model for real estate development currently offers a fundamental solution to address development challenges and promote the sector's healthy growth. Initiatives such as the construction of government-subsidized housing, the construction of dual-use public infrastructure for normal and emergency situations, and the rebuilding of villages in cities are progressing rapidly. These projects, as they advance vigorously and systematically, will not only address pressing housing and living concerns for the people but also stimulate investment and consumption related to real estate, fostering the sector's healthy development.


China Daily:

Recently, various international and business institutions have raised their expectations for China's economic growth, saying that China will remain the largest contributor to the global economic growth engine. What is your perspective on this, and what trends do you anticipate for China's economy in 2024? Thank you.

Kang Yi:

Thank you for your question. The outlook for China's economic trajectory in 2024 is a matter of significant interest to everyone. 2024 marks the 75th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China and is a crucial year for implementing the country's 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-2025). When forecasting this year's economic trends, it's crucial to acknowledge the potential challenges and difficulties. However, the predominant factors will lean towards favorable conditions and advantages. The fundamentals underpinning China's long-term growth remain unchanged, with factors supporting high-quality development accumulating and increasing. Therefore, we predict that China's economy will continue to rebound and improve in 2024, driven by five favorable conditions:

Firstly, positive momentum in economic growth. In the four quarters of 2023, GDP exhibited positive year-on-year and quarter-on-quarter growth, expanding quarter by quarter. This upward trend is quite favorable. In addition to the statistical accounting of economic aggregates, the NBS also monitors and compares various physical indicators. From the perspective of physical indicators, the absolute volumes of metrics such as electricity consumption, output of major industrial products, investment, and import-export significantly surpassed 2019 levels. Some physical volume indicators, mainly associated with the output indicators of the real estate-related sector, were lower than the pre-pandemic levels in 2019, as we mentioned earlier. This also indicates an overall improvement in our economic performance. International organizations have raised their forecasts for China's economic growth, with the International Monetary Fund increasing their predicted growth by 0.4 percentage point and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development raising theirs by 0.1 percentage point. This indicates optimism in the international community regarding China's economic development prospects in 2024.

Second, the Chinese economy has enormous resilience. Our country boasts a strong industrial foundation, being the only nation that possesses all industrial categories as classified by the United Nations. The complementary capabilities and integrated advantages of our industries remain prominent. The added value of our manufacturing sector accounts for nearly one-third of the world's total, and our goods exports make up approximately one-seventh of the global share. Meanwhile, our country's infrastructure networks, including transportation and communications, are becoming increasingly sophisticated. Weak links in areas such as education and healthcare are continuously being reinforced, and the supply quality of factors such as talent and funding is significantly improving. The assurance capabilities in key areas such as food and energy security, as well as industrial and supply chains have been greatly improved. These efforts have enhanced the resilience and flexibility of our country's economic development, providing the confidence for sustained and far-reaching economic stability.

Third, China's high-quality development is vibrant and dynamic. With new industries witnessing rapid growth, emerging formats displaying positive signals, accelerated nurturing of new models, constant optimization of economic structures, and ongoing upgrading of driving forces, there is an anticipated release of potential to further stimulate economic development. In 2023, the added value of the service industry accounted for 54.6 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP), contributing to economic growth with a rate surpassing 60 percent. Investment in the upgrading of manufacturing technologies increased by 3.8 percent, and high-tech industry investment grew by 10.3 percent, surpassing the overall growth rate of fixed asset investment. More importantly, China is consistently promoting innovation-driven development. The Chinese economy has been growing bigger and stronger as it accelerates the cultivation of new productive forces.

Fourth, China's reform and opening up has yielded substantial economic benefits for enterprises. Our country has upheld and further improved the basic socialist economic systems and worked unswervingly both to consolidate and develop the public sector and encourage, support and guide the development of the non-public sector. China has intensified its endeavors to establish a national unified market, advanced the development of high-standard market systems, and enhanced the business environment so as to create a favorable competitive environment for various types of enterprises. All these efforts are conducive to further stimulating the enthusiasm and creativity of different entities, including foreign-funded enterprises. In the first 11 months of 2023, the year-on-year increase in the number of newly established foreign-invested enterprises reached 36.2%, consistently unleashing the dividends of opening up. 

Fifth, China boasts ample room for implementing macroeconomic policies. The policy effects introduced in 2023, such as issuing additional national bonds, tax reduction, fee reduction, and adjustments to reserve requirements and interest rates, will continue to unfold throughout this year. This year, there will also be further optimization of some new measures in reserve. The combined efforts of these new incremental measures and existing policies will provide strong support for the stable operation of the economy. Currently, our country maintains a low level of government debt and inflation rate. The policy toolkit is continually being strengthened, providing considerable flexibility in fiscal, monetary, and other policies. There are conditions and room to vigorously implement macroeconomic policies.

Although we will likely encounter some difficulties and challenges in promoting the sustained recovery and improvement of the economy in 2024, the recent Central Economic Work Conference thoroughly analyzed those issues and proposed specific measures to address those difficulties and challenges. We must comprehensively implement the deployment of the Central Economic Work Conference, and continuously transform development advantages into development momentum. This year, the Chinese economy is certain to forge ahead despite difficulties and challenges, and achieve both effective qualitative improvements and reasonable growth. Thank you.



In 2023, while the total retail sales of consumer goods showed a gradual recovery trend, China still faces the challenge of insufficient demand. What's your assessment of China's consumption market performance in 2023? Additionally, what are your expectations for 2024, and do you anticipate a sustained consumption recovery? Thank you.

Kang Yi:

Thank you for your questions. The first question pertains to the performance of China's consumption market in 2023, while the second one refers to expectations for the consumption market in 2024.

Please allow me to first introduce the performance of the consumer market in 2023. Generally speaking, it displayed an encouraging rebound momentum last year. In the previous three years, the consumer market was severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, with significant restrictions on contact-and-gathering-based consumption. Since China optimized its pandemic response measures, the country's economic and social operations have returned to normal, and the consumption sector has experienced a positive rebound trend. Consumption, featuring numerous hotspots and highlights, became an important driving force in boosting the entire year's economic recovery. There were four notable characteristics. First, the scale of consumption reached a new high. In 2023, the total retail sales of consumer goods hit a record high to more than 47 trillion yuan. Second, consumption once again became the main force in promoting economic growth. In 2023, final consumption expenditure contributed 4.3 percentage points to the economic growth rate, up 3.1 percentage points year on year. It constituted 82.5% of economic growth, an increase of 43.1 percentage points year on year. This signifies that the fundamental role of consumption has become more significant. Third, services consumption recovered rapidly, another highlight of the consumption rebound. The retail sales of services in 2023 grew by 20% over the previous year, 14.2 percentage points faster than the retail sales of goods. The per capita consumption expenditure on services increased by 14.4%, accounting for 45.2% of per capita consumption expenditure, 2 percentage points higher than the previous year. Fourth, the structure of household consumption continued to upgrade. Thanks to improved living standards and steadily increasing incomes, the country's household consumption structure is currently in a period of rapid upgrading.

We predict that consumption will maintain decent growth in the next stage since there are a number of favorable conditions to support its recovery. The favorable conditions are as follows: First, the consumption potential is still vast. China's super-large market, with a population of over 1.4 billion, the coordinated development between urban and rural areas, the steady advancement of urbanization, and the upgrading of the consumption structure, all provide broad space for consumption growth. Additionally, the consumption potential in the medical and healthcare sectors is likely to be further unleashed. Second, the foundation of consumption is solidified. Income is both the precondition and the foundation of consumption. As the employment situation generally improves amid economic recovery, residents' incomes are likely to maintain steady growth, providing a solid foundation for the enhancement of people's consumption capacity. Third, bright spots in consumption continue to emerge, including digital consumption, green consumption, health consumption, entertainment consumption, as well as consumption in smart homes, tourism, sports events, and "China-chic" products. All of these are continually improving the quality and expanding the scale of the consumption market. Fourth, relevant policies have been initiated to stimulate consumption. Local governments and departments continuously prioritize recovering and expanding consumption. Policy incentives have been rolled out to stabilize and expand traditional consumption, cultivate new consumption, and improve the consumption environment, playing a positive role in stabilizing the consumption market and promoting consumption recovery. Overall, we remain optimistic about the consumption trend in 2024. Thank you.


21st Century Business Herald:

My question concerns the fifth national economic census. China formally commenced its fifth national economic census on Jan. 1, 2024. What is the current progress? What innovations does this census feature compared to the previous four, and how is its quality guaranteed? Thank you.

Kang Yi:

Thank you for your questions. The fifth national economic census is a significant survey of the country's overall situation and strength, conducted as the Chinese people embark on a new journey in a new era. It will determine the economic background of our country and keep track of the progress of high-quality development. At present, the unit inventory survey has been successfully completed, and the census has entered the stage of orderly implementation since the first day of this year. On Jan. 3, Chinese Vice Premier Ding Xuexiang set clear requirements for the ongoing census during an inspection in Beijing where he guided on-site registration of census and visited staff members at the community level. The related work is currently being promoted in an orderly manner. The registration part of the census, planned to be conducted from January to April, is of great significance for the entire census since it is vital to acquire high-quality economic data. 

The key innovations of the fifth national economic census primarily focus on supporting high-quality development, enriching the content, and introducing new methods. The fifth national economic census will comprehensively examine the development status, layout, and efficiency of China's secondary and tertiary industries. Building on this, we will expand the scope of statistical survey, enrich its content, and improve its system. These steps aim to foster a statistical monitoring system with high-quality development. The innovations include the following three aspects:

First, this is the first time we've carried out an input-output survey in a coordinated way. Previously, input-output surveys and economic census were conducted separately. The fifth national economic census combines these two, facilitating better data integration of both economic aggregates and structures.

Second, we will further improve the statistics of the "three new" economy. The newly added digital economy survey will more accurately depict the digitalization of China's economic development. The survey on the platform economy will be conducted in a systematic way, laying the groundwork for identifying the development of new industries, new business formats and new business models.

Third, the methods have been innovated. We have continued to improve the use of departments' administrative records, introduced a self-reporting method for collecting census data, developed a mobile mini-program for data collection for the first time, and established an electronic ledger for input-output statistics for the first time, improving the efficiency of the census.

The quality of data is the fundamental standard for determining the success of the census. Throughout the process, we will attach great importance to data quality, implementing a series of measures to ensure its integrity.

First, we have regulated data collection. This time, the census will combine on-site collection by enumerators, self-reporting and data submitted by departments, which will strictly control human interference in the data collection process to ensure the quality of the source data.

Second, we will use a variety of methods for data review and check. The data will be reviewed as soon as it is collected. We will comprehensively use big data and various analysis methods to carry out data review and verification, and conduct on-site inspections in a timely manner. After the census registration is completed, the economic census office will also organize another round of sampling check to comprehensively inspect the data quality.

Third, we will resolutely investigate and punish any instances of census falsification. We will conduct the census in accordance with the law, firmly resist all forms of interference with census data, strengthen examinations of statistical law enforcement, incorporate the fifth national economic census into our statistical supervision, punish any violation of law and discipline as soon as it is exposed, and hold the responsible parties accountable in accordance with the law and regulations.

At present, there are more than 2.1 million enumerators (including surveyors and assistants) who are going into businesses and communities to complete data collection, and the data is being reported in an orderly manner.

Here, I would like to thank all the census respondents for their support and the hard work of the census workers. I also hope that friends from the media will continue to support, report on, and supervise the census so we can jointly deliver a satisfactory report and ensure the high-quality execution of the fifth national economic census. Thank you.

Shou Xiaoli:

Due to time constraints, we will take the last two questions.


Cover News:

Recently, there have been media reports stating that China's total electricity consumption and power generation differed by 294.6 billion kilowatt-hours in the first 11 months of 2023. What are the reasons behind this data discrepancy? Thank you.

Kang Yi:

Thank you for your question. We have noted the discussions in the media regarding the data discrepancy between electricity consumption and power generation. Power generation and electricity consumption are two important indicators that reflect the operation of the power sector. The data discrepancy during the January-November period, as mentioned by the reporter, is primarily due to the distinct scopes of these two indicators. One represents the total electricity consumption across the country, while the other represents power generation from industrial enterprises above designated size. In addition to industrial enterprises above designated size, with the rapid development of solar and wind power, some small-scale industrial enterprises, residential buildings and commercial establishments also generate electricity. However, the electricity generated by these entities is not included in the power generation data of industrial enterprises above designated size during the January-November period.

To help you better understand, let me explain a little about these two indicators. They differ in terms of surveyed subjects, statistical standards and coverage. First, they have different statistical standards. Total electricity consumption is calculated from the perspective of electricity users, while power generation from industrial enterprises above designated size is calculated from the perspective of electricity suppliers. The scopes of these two statistics are different. Specifically, total electricity consumption represents the overall electricity usage, including both industrial and residential consumption, as well as self-consumption by power plants and line losses. On the other hand, the statistics for power generation from industrial enterprises above designated size only consider the electricity generated by industrial enterprises with annual main business revenue of at least 20 million yuan. Therefore, it does not include power generation from smaller industrial enterprises below this size, and does not represent the overall electricity generation across all sectors.

Second, the data discrepancy is partly due to the distributed generation of power. In recent years, China has seen rapid development in widely dispersed and relatively small-scale distributed solar and wind facilities, and a significant portion of them are distributed among residential properties, businesses and some industrial enterprises below designated size. These smaller power generation facilities do not meet the statistical standards for industrial enterprises above designated size, and some are even owned by businesses and residential properties, so they are not included in the monthly statistics of power generation from industrial enterprises above designated size. However, they will be included in the country's total power generation. As you know, our data is usually released in the middle of the following month. Therefore, the smaller-scale distributed power generation, scattered across various regions, will be included in the annual statistics, and the country's total power generation capacity will be released in the annual statistical reports. Generally speaking, power generation from industrial enterprises above designated size accounts for approximately 95% of the country's total electricity generation. There have been fluctuations recently. The country sees an increase in power generation from enterprises below designated size, while that from those above designated size is gradually decreasing. The decrease is not significant, and this proportion roughly represents the current situation. When talking about monthly power generation, it is essential not to overlook the mention of "industrial enterprises above designated size." Statistical indicators are rigorous, and it is important for users to pay attention to the meaning and scope of these indicators when utilizing them, thus enabling more accurate data usage. Thank you.


Southern Metropolis Daily:

I would like to ask about the employment situation in 2023. Have the targets and tasks been accomplished? Also, the number of graduates from universities and colleges in 2024 is expected to reach a new high. What can we expect in terms of employment trends? Thank you.

Kang Yi:

Thank you for your questions. Employment is also a matter of great concern to everyone because it is the most important livelihood issue. The CPC Central Committee and the State Council have consistently attached high importance to employment, taking the stability of employment to a strategic level and considering it comprehensively. All regions and departments have prioritized employment, optimizing and adjusting policies and measures to stabilize employment. In the past year, we have made every effort to stabilize the overall employment situation and the employment situation has improved. There have been several notable changes.

First, the surveyed unemployment rate has decreased, and new employment continues to increase. On a quarterly basis, the average surveyed urban unemployment rates across the country were 5.4%, 5.2%, 5.2%, and 5.0%, respectively, indicating a noticeable improvement in employment trends. From January to November, the number of new urban employment was 11.8 million, with an increase of 350,000 people compared to the same period last year.

Second, there has been strong employment support for key and vulnerable groups. A series of measures to stabilize and expand employment have been implemented effectively. The results of targeted assistance for employment difficulties among various groups, including migrant workers, youth, and individuals facing employment challenges, have been prominent. In 2023, the total number of migrant workers reached 297.53 million, an increase of 1.91 million from the previous year. The average surveyed urban unemployment rate for rural migrant workers decreased by 0.7 percentage point compared to the previous year, reaching 4.9%. From January to November, 4.75 million unemployed individuals in urban areas found new jobs, and 1.56 million individuals facing employment difficulties secured jobs.

Third, the scale of employment for individuals who have been lifted out of poverty has maintained a steady increase. Various regions and departments have fully utilized mechanisms such as east-west labor cooperation, paired assistance, and targeted support to provide targeted assistance to key poverty-stricken counties and for people relocated from inhospitable areas. As a result, the employment of people who have been lifted out of poverty has steadily increased. As of the end of November 2023, the number of employed individuals from poverty-stricken backgrounds reached 32.94 million, exceeding the target of 30 million.

The overall assessment of this year's employment situation is that there is still pressure, and structural contradictions in employment for certain groups and industries may remain prominent. However, with the recovery of the economy and the acceleration of industrial transformation and upgrading, the positive factors for stable employment are also accumulating. It is expected that China's employment situation will remain stable. There are several reasons for this.

First, the expansion of the economic scale leads to an increase in employment. Economic growth is the foundation for stable and expanded employment. In recent years, the continuous expansion of China's economic standing has been the key driver of employment growth. It is expected that the increment created by China's economy in 2024 will be greater than last year, which will provide strong support for expanding employment. Second, the population size exiting the labor market in 2024 will be larger than the population entering the labor market, providing more employment opportunities for job seekers. Third, upgrading the industrial structure expands employment capacity. Compared to other industries, the service industry, which has a higher labor intensity, has obvious advantages in job creation. Since last year, the service industry has shown good recovery momentum, and its share in GDP has been increasing. The share of the service sector in GDP has already exceeded pre-COVID-pandemic levels, and the employment-driving effect in industries such as catering, transportation, wholesale, and retail is relatively obvious. Looking ahead to this year, service consumption will be active, and the growth of the service industry will continue to be one of the main forces driving employment. At the same time, the vigorous development of new industries, new formats, and new business models has created many new job demands, which also contribute to expanding employment opportunities and improving employment quality. Fourth, stable employment policies continue to play their due roles and achieve the desired effect. The Central Economic Work Conference has also made arrangements for this, particularly emphasizing the need for policies that are conducive to stabilizing expectations, stabilizing growth, and stabilizing employment. Localities and departments will prioritize employment and increase support for key groups, while the release of policy dividends is expected to continue to provide a strong guarantee for employment stability. Thank you.

Shou Xiaoli:

Thank you to the two speakers, and thank you to all the participating journalists. Today's press conference ends here. Goodbye, everyone.

Translated and edited by Xu Xiaoxuan, Wang Yiming, Liu Sitong, Wang Yanfang, Xu Kailin, Yang Xi, Wang Ziteng, Li Huiru, Li Xiao, Zhang Junmian, Liu Jianing, Huang Shan, Wang Qian, Qin Qi, Yuan Fang, Lin Liyao, Zhou Jing, Zhang Tingting, Liu Caiyi, Wang Wei, Zhang Rui, David Ball, Tom Arnsten, and Jay Birbeck. In case of any discrepancy between the English and Chinese texts, the Chinese version is deemed to prevail.

/4    Group photo

/4    Kang Yi

/4    Wang Guanhua

/4    Shou Xiaoli