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BEIJING: China’s economy grew at a record pace during the first quarter as it rebounded from a historic contraction caused by Covid-19, and boosted by exports and domestic demand, an AFP poll of analysts found.

The world’s number two economy is tipped to have expanded 18.7 percent on-year, according to the average forecast by economists from 15 institutions, having been the only major one to grow at all last year.

While the virus first emerged in central China in late 2019, the country was also the quickest to bounce back after authorities imposed strict lockdowns and virus control measures.

Analysts forecast China’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth for the whole year will be 8.5 percent, markedly higher than leaders’ modest target of above six percent.

It is also a strident advance from 2.3 percent growth in 2020.

“Monthly indicators released recently all pointed toward a sustained strong recovery in China in the first quarter,” said Christina Zhu, an economist at Moody’s Analytics.

“Production output grew robustly while both external and domestic demand continued to improve,” she said.

The dramatic spike was also largely driven by the low base of comparison with last year, when the outbreak brought most business activity to a standstill, said Rabobank senior economist Raphie Hayat.

The prediction comes after data on Tuesday showed imports and exports continued to boom in March as the nation’s recovery continued apace and demand picked up in key overseas markets as they emerged from last year’s virus crisis.

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