China's economy grew by 6.1% in 2019, the lowest annual growth rate for 29 years, the National Bureau of Statistics said on Friday.
The gross domestic product (GDP) figure came in a year in which the Chinese economy was hammered by US tariffs as a result of the trade war.
The new data comes a day after China and the United States signed an initial trade deal on Wednesday, marking something of a ceasefire in the trade dispute between the world's two largest economies.
However, despite falling to a new low since 1990, when political turmoil drove economic growth down to 3.9%, the 6.1% rate met the target range of between 6.0% and 6.5% set by the central government at the beginning of last year, but was below the market expectation of 6.2%.
The growth rate was in line with forecasts from the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank for China's economic growth for 2019.
While policymakers in Beijing may be relieved to have kept the official growth rate above the psychologically important 6.0% mark, more challenges await in 2020.
The trade deal will take some of the pressure off, with China set to launch a huge purchasing program that will drive up its imports from the US, but structural problems remain.
Furthermore, many are doubtful about the prospects of the deal holding.
"The phase one deal is only an interim agreement between China and the US. In fact, to push for negotiation in the next stage, the US will keep existing tariffs on imports from China unless the two countries manage to reach a phase two deal," said Alicia Garcia Herrero, chief Asia-Pacific economist at Natixis, a corporate and investment bank.
"In the bilateral evaluation and dispute resolution chapter, the agreement also makes it clear that, if the concerns cannot be resolved, the two parties hold the right to suspend an obligation, adopt a remedial measure, or in the worst case, withdraw from the agreement."
Chinese policymakers used tax cuts and monetary stimulus to step up efforts to curb a prolonged economic downturn last year.
However, the phase one deal led central bank officials to tell a press conference in Beijing on Thursday that its monetary policy would remain "prudent" through this year.
"We expect Beijing to introduce more easing measures and stimulus in coming months, but the scale of the stimulus package will likely be much smaller than those in previous easing cycles. We believe quarterly GDP growth of below 6.0% is inevitable in coming quarters," wrote Nomura analysts in a note.
However, at a press conference in Beijing on Friday morning, Ning Jizhe, an NBS spokesman, focused on the fact that China's per capita income rose above $10,000 last year for the first time in history, claiming that "China's pace of progress is unstoppable."
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