Beijing ( AsiaNews / Agencies) - While the final day of the National People's Congress gets underway in Tiananmen Square, the economic data released by the National Statistics Bureau shows a further contraction in the national economy. Industrial production in January and February grew by 8.6%, while retail sales - a key factor in retail spending, an economic sector that the government wants to boost as much as possible - was up by 11.8% compared to last year.
Although the data is positive over all, at the same time they reveal a larger contraction than first forecast: 9.5% for industrial production and 13.5 for retail sales. Fixed assests investments have also slowed - "fixed assets" such as infrastructure, are vital to job creation and spending nationwide - up by 17.9% compared to 19.4 in 2013.
Asian markets have reacted negatively to the news: both the Hang Seng in Hong Kong and Shanghai stock exchange are down, although analysts and investors are waiting for the conclusion of the National People's Congress to begin trading on Chinese shares.
In his opening address to the Congress - China's "Parliament", called to legitimize the decisions taken by the Politburo - the premier Li Keqiang stressed that economic growth remains fixed at 7.5% for 2014. The prime minister said that China "will bring forward the planned fiscal and financial reforms, to free the economy from dependence on long-term investments [the "fixed assets", such as those in the real estate and infrastructure - ed] that currently drive economic growth but at the same time increase the risk of a damaging bubble in the property market".