China growth slowest in 25 years

BEIJING - China's economy grew by 6.9% in 2015, compared with 7.3% a year earlier, marking its slowest growth in a quarter of a century.

China's growth, seen as a driver of the global economy, is a major concern for investors around the world.

Beijing had set an official growth target of "about 7%" for the world's second-largest economy.

Chinese Premier Li Keqiang has said weaker growth would be acceptable as long as enough new jobs were created.

But some observers say its growth is actually much weaker than official data suggests, though Beijing denies numbers are being inflated.

Analysts said any growth below 6.8% would likely fuel calls for further economic stimulus. Economic growth in the final quarter of 2015 edged down to 6.8%, according to the country's national bureau of statistics.

After experiencing rapid growth for more than a decade, China's economy has experienced a painful slowdown in the last two years.

It's come as the central government wants to move towards an economy led by consumption and services, rather than one driven by exports and investment. But managing that transition has been challenging.

Some argue that China's focus on creating an economy driven by consumption is misplaced. They say as the country attempts to rebalance its economy, it should focus on productivity in order to sustain high growth.

"While higher consumption can support growth in the short run, there is little in economic theory that emphasises the expenditure side of GDP as a driver of growth," HSBC's John Zhu said in a note.

Mr Zhu also said that China's current stage of development would require more investment, not less, and that the country would rebalance naturally towards consumption and services in time.

"Pushing the economy along those paths too soon would be dangerous," he said.

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