Chinas economy grew at slowest pace in 28 years in 2018

Delivery drivers have seen a fall in jobs

They suspect that China's economy may be growing even slower than the official statistics reveal.

Forecasters expect growth to decline further this year to 6.3 per cent or lower.

The trade war is on hold for now after President Xi Jinping and Trump agreed to a 3-month ceasefire while the two sides try to find a resolution, with top negotiators set to meet in Washington at the end of the month.

China's economy grew 6.6% in 2018, its slowest pace in nearly 30 years.

The figures suggest that China may no longer be able to help shore up weakening global growth, as it has in the past.

Relations with top trading partner the United States deteriorated sharply previous year after President Donald Trump hit roughly half of Chinese imports with new tariffs in an attempt to force trade concessions.

The US and China have been locked in an escalating trade spat since early 2018, raising import tariffs on each other's goods.

Monday's new data confirming the slowdown of the economy came ahead of key talks between top trade officials from the USA and China in Washington on January 30-31.

Many private makers of electronics, textiles and auto parts in the tech center of Shenzhen furloughed workers more than two months before the Lunar New Year holiday, according to local officials.

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Slowing disposable income growth and tighter credit has hit consumer spending with vehicle sales falling last year for the first time in more than 20 years.

On Friday, China revised its 2017 economic growth down to 6.8 per cent from 6.9 per cent - a move some analysts say may have been aimed at beefing up this year´s growth rate.

Retail sales increased by nine percent in 2018 year-on-year, down from 10.2 percent in 2017, the NBS said.

The number of children born in the year was the lowest since 1961, when 11.87 million babies were born, South China Morning Post reported.

"Downward pressure on the economy is increasing", the commissioner of the National Bureau of Statistics, Ning Jizhe, said at a news conference.

The figure is far short of the target of more than 18 million births that the party had hoped to reach to address a rapidly ageing population and the pressures it places on healthcare services and pension provision.

The official noted that trade and economic differences between China and the United States began to manifest themselves in the second quarter of a year ago, and the Chinese government took a number of measures to ensure the stability of employment, financial sector, foreign trade, foreign capital and investment.

Still, China's total population rose by 5.3 million in 2018 to 1.395 billion people, retaining its title as the world's most populous nation.

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