China's economy has shown positive changes in production, consumption, market expectations and prices, indicating that the world's second-largest economy is stable and resilient in the face of headwinds and is laying a solid foundation to counter downward pressure, officials and experts said.
In December, the country's growth in industrial output, retail sales and foreign trade accelerated. Surveys of purchasing managers indicate that market expectations are improving, Meng Wei, a spokeswoman for the National Development and Reform Commission, said at a news conference on Sunday.
Consumer prices month-on-month also stopped rising in December, she said.
Value-added industrial output rose by 6.9 percent in December from a year earlier, 0.7 percentage points faster than the previous month. The purchasing manager's index, which reflects market expectations about conditions in the country's manufacturing sector, remained unchanged at 50.2 in December, the second straight month of expansion in factory activity.
The consumer price index rose by 4.5 percent year-on-year in December, but its growth was zero month-on-month.
"Those changes are the result of a series of policy measures and indicate that the Chinese economy has strong resilience, great potential and a lot of leeway," she said, adding that as more supportive policies are implemented in the coming months, the positive trend should continue.
China's overall economy expanded by 6.1 percent year-on-year in 2019, meeting the preset target range of 6 to 6.5 percent for the year, according to the National Bureau of Statistics.
Meng noted that China's per capita GDP exceeded $10,000 for the first time in 2019, a solid step toward becoming a high-income country. But she said the country still lags far behind developed countries, which typically have a per capita GDP of more than $30,000.
Looking ahead, China's GDP growth should be around 6 percent this year, said Tang Jianwei, chief researcher at the Bank of Communications' Financial Research Center.
"China's economy, despite downside pressure, is likely to remain steady this year, as external headwinds may ease in the coming months and the effects of countercyclical macroeconomic policies gradually appear."
Tang added that the recent phase-one economic and trade agreement signed by China and the United States is expected to inject confidence into both economies, and China may witness a pickup in growth this year.
Zhang Wei, an analyst at Southwest Securities in Chongqing, said the Sino-U.S. agreement is conducive to piping more foreign investment and talent into China, which will help foster high-quality development and push reforms forward.
The NDRC's Meng said, "Deepening Sino-U.S. economic and trade cooperation is in line with China's high-quality economic development requirements. It's conducive to promoting more competition in the domestic market and speeding up the upgrading of products and services.
"Chinese companies will follow WTO rules and negotiate import agreements with U.S. companies in accordance with market-based principles to expand imports of goods and services from the U.S.."
Meng urged more efforts to optimize the business environment as part of the country's larger drive to deepen reforms and open up the economy, which will also add new momentum for the economy.
China has shortened its negative list in three consecutive years, with the number of items down to 40 from 93.
"In the next step, China will open up more industries to foreign investors with a shortened negative list for foreign access to business sectors," Meng said.