China is expected to report on Monday that economic growth cooled to its slowest in 28 years in 2018 amid weakening domestic demand and bruising USA tariffs, adding pressure on Beijing to roll out more support measures to avert a sharper slowdown.
While the 6.6-percent growth rate was lower than the 6.8-percent growth registered in 2017, it is still a relatively fast pace that pointed to resilience in the economy, analysts said.
Last year's growth rate was down from 6.8 per cent in 2017 and was the lowest growth rate of 3.9 per cent, recorded in 1990.
"China's economy is likely to weaken further before growth stabilizes in the second half of the year on the back of expanded policy stimulus", Julian Evans-Pritchard of Capital Economics said in a report.
Chinese smartphone sales dropped 8 per cent in the third quarter of 2018 compared to the same period a year earlier, according to Counterpoint Research. But exports contracted in December as the penalties began to dampen demand.
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China's economy grew 6.6% in 2018, its slowest pace in nearly 30 years.
The talks will be held between Chinese Vice Premier Liu He and USA trade representative Robert Lighthizer to work an agreement before the March 1 deadline failing which President Donald Trump has threatened to slap additional tariffs on all Chinese exports to the US.
Growth in investment, retail sales and other indicators also slowed.
Output at factories and workshops ticked up 6.2 per cent for the year, down from 6.6 per cent in 2017.
The economic report comes just hours after Beijing unveiled a potential trade deal with the United States; vowing to increase imports and eliminate the US-China trade deficit by 2024.
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"There is some risk of a hard Brexit, but we would really only put that at 10 percent", he said. Several economists are sceptical about China's official growth numbers, saying the actual rate is usually 30-40 basis points (100bps = 1 percentage point) lower than what is reported by official agencies, more so at a time of declining performance.
Yet the slowdown in Chinese economic growth is a reminder that Beijing has its challenges too. Some analysts believe real growth levels are already much weaker than official data suggest. Auto sales in the world's biggest vehicle market shrank for the first time since the 1990s.
Due to the massive size of its market, China's slowdown is also bringing pain to companies and industries worldwide, including automakers such as Volkswagen AG and Toyota Motor Corp.
"The China-US trade tensions, a hindrance to China's domestic economic transformation and upgrading, coupled with lack of confidence from investors, resulted in the nation's declining GDP growth in 2018", said Dong Dengxin, director of the Finance and Securities Institute at Wuhan University of Science and Technology.
The US and China have been locked in an escalating trade spat since early 2018, raising import tariffs on each other's goods.
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"The number of newborns will continue plunging even after the country completely revoked its birth policy, unless the Chinese leadership made great efforts to boost births such as lowering the cost of education significantly", said Huang Wenzheng, co-founder of Cnpop.org, a non-profit organisation analysing China's population and birth policies.