David Thomas is an expert on doing business in China. With a successful history of forging global business relationships, David helps leaders,
entrepreneurs and investors solve the China puzzle. As part of that, he’s launched a daily email newsletter ‘China Bites’ which you can read here on Targeting China.

I am sorry to say this but some of the negative media reports about “China’s slowing economy” is getting a bit ridiculous. A good example is this one from Bloomberg (dated 10th February) which leads with the headline “China’s Holiday Spending Slows, Underlining Tough Start to 2019” and goes on to say “People in China spent 1.01 trillion yuan ($149 billion) at restaurants, shopping malls and online outlets over the the week-long holiday. That was 8.5% higher than during last year’s festive period, but the slowest increase since at least 2011”. The words “slowest increase” are of particular interest here. I would have thought that an 8.5% increase on a number that is now much higher than it was 8 years ago, would have been seen as a positive story, rather than the negative spin placed on it by Bloomberg?

As you read through the article, some of the main points that spring out are:

  • Spending at tourist venues rose 8.2% to 513.9 billion yuan, slower than the 12.6% rise last year.
  • JD.com report a 43% jump in sales around the holiday versus a year earlier. Cellphones, computers and home appliances were at the top of shopping lists, and there was a surge in purchases of kitchenware and furniture.
  • Spending growth in smaller cities jumped 55% on Alibaba’s Tmall, faster than in major metropolises.
  • China mainland visitors to Macau reached almost 900,000 during the week-long Chinese New Year holiday, climbing 26% from last year’s festive holiday, according to Macau’s tourism office. That was more than double last year’s growth.

I am not saying that China’s economy isn’t slowing, and there are certainly a few worrying signs which we should all be watching, but I don’t think it’s helpful for the media to turn everything into a “China slowing” story? What will be achieved by that?

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