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China's Economy Falters; Slowest Growth In Nearly 3 Decades

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People pass a store in Beijing on Monday. The government's figures show that China's pace of economic growth in the second quarter was at its slowest in nearly three decades.
Andy Wong, AP

People pass a store in Beijing on Monday. The government's figures show that China's pace of economic growth in the second quarter was at its slowest in nearly three decades.

Updated at 11:50 a.m. ET

China's economy grew at the slowest pace in 27 years, as the trade war with the United States takes a toll.

The second-largest economy in the world grew 6.2% in the second quarter of 2019, a drop from 6.4% in the first quarter, according to data released by the Chinese government.

The pace of growth in the second quarter was at its slowest since 1992.

Mao Shengyong, a spokesperson for China's National Bureau of Statistics, told reporters at a news conference that the "external environment" is more complicated than in the past.

Months of trade negotiations between Beijing and Washington have resulted in deadlock. President Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping vowed to resume trade talks after meeting at the G-20 summit in Japan in June. In what analysts see as a momentary truce, Trump chose to hold off on a threat to impose new tariffs on about $300 billion worth of additional Chinese imports.

But the president took to Twitter on Monday morning to comment on China's economic growth. "The United States Tariffs are having a major effect on companies wanting to leave China for non-tariffed countries," he tweeted. "Thousands of companies are leaving. This is why China wants to make a deal with the U.S., and wishes it had not broken the original deal in the first place."

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Still, the slowdown is not unexpected. It falls within a target range set by the government of 6% to 6.5%. Domestic spending by Chinese consumers kept the economy slowing even further.

As concerns grow within China that its formidable economic growth over the past three decades is softening, the Chinese government continues to implement policies to encourage domestic investment and stimulate the economy.

Meanwhile, Trump is expected on Monday to use his political will to sign an executive order meant to boost production of American steel and iron.

The move would not be Trump's first attempt to bolster the U.S. steel industry. He slapped tariffs on imports from most large, steel-producing countries in 2018. The measure may have escalated tariffs between Chinese and American goods.

Economists have warned for months about an economic slowdown in China in 2019. "Even back in November, they were talking about the cold winter coming up. They weren't referring to the weather," economist Christopher Balding told NPR in January.

Copyright 2019 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

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