BEIJING - The Chinese economy expanded 7.8 per cent in 2012, the government said Friday - the worst performance in 13 years - in the face of weakness at home and in key overseas markets.
But gross domestic product (GDP) grew 7.9 per cent in the final three months of the year, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said, as it snapped seven straight quarters of slowing growth in a positive sign for the spluttering global recovery.
China's GDP reached 51.9 trillion yuan (S$10.2 trillion) in 2012, cementing its position as the world's second-largest economy after the United States.
Annual growth slowed for a second straight year but the figures were just ahead of expectations, with economists surveyed by AFP having projected GDP growth of 7.7 per cent in 2012 and 7.8 per cent in the fourth quarter.
The official statistics come as optimism grows among analysts that China will pick up steam in 2013 after two years of relative weakness. The AFP survey showed expectations of an acceleration to 8.0 per cent growth this year.
"The international economic environment remains complicated this year and... there are still unbalanced conflicts in the Chinese economy," NBS spokesman Ma Jiantang told reporters.
Still, Ma added: "We expect China's economy to continue to grow in a stable manner in 2013."
China's growth has slowed amid weakness in the global economy, particularly the key export markets of the United States and Europe, and as the government took steps to cool a once red hot property market.