BEIJING - China's economy grew at a record pace in the first quarter, official data showed on Friday, expanding 18.3 percent from a year earlier as the recovery from the coronavirus slump accelerated.
The growth in gross domestic product (GDP) was slower than the 19 percent forecast by economists in a Reuters poll, and followed 6.5 percent growth in the fourth quarter last year. It was the strongest growth since at least 1992 when official quarterly records started.
China's economy has largely recovered from last year's COVID-19 induced paralysis, fuelled by global vaccination progress, resilient exports and government stimulus.
The world's second-largest economy is expected to grow 8.6 percent this year, according to a Reuters poll, following a 2.3 percent rise last year, which was its weakest in 44 years but still made China the only major economy to avoid contraction.
However, there are doubts China can sustain the rapid pace of expansion as the low comparison base seen in the first half of last year fades.
On a quarter-on-quarter basis, GDP rose 0.6 percent in January-March, the National Bureau of Statistics said, compared with expectations for a 1.5 percent rise and a revised 3.2 percent gain in the previous quarter.