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China Reports Its Fastest Economic Growth In 7 Years

China's manufacturing sector helped boost the country's GDP, in statistics released on Thursday. Here, a worker at a Ford manufacturing plant uses a laptop next to a car body on an assembly line in Chongqing.

China is reporting its fastest economic growth in seven years, saying its gross domestic product grew by 6.9 percent in 2017. It's the first time since 2010 that the speed of China's economic growth went up rather than edging down.

In releasing the number Thursday, the National Bureau of Statistics of China said, "The economy has achieved stable and healthy development."

The statistics agency reports that the value of China's exports grew by nearly 11 percent from 2016, while the combined value of imports and exports rose by 14.2 percent. China's trade surplus was reported at more than 2.87 trillion yuan — around $447 billion.

China's economy is the second-largest in the world. According to the South China Morning Post, the expansion brings China's economy to "about two-thirds the size of the United States' last year, and at the current rate could overtake it within the next decade."

From Shanghai, NPR's Rob Schmitz reports:

"Beijing's official GDP target for 2017 was around 6.5 percent, but economists began to expect higher growth late in the year, based on better-than-expected economic data due to a global recovery.

"China's target for 2018 is around 6.5 percent. The country's been fighting debt for years as it tries to balance economic stability against the potential fallout from any sharp deceleration from monetary tightening, a decline in the real estate sector, or a trade war with the United States."

The report cites a total population on mainland China of 1.39 billion at the end of 2017.

Nationwide, the per capita disposable income grew to 25,974 yuan — around $4,044 — a rise of 9 percent over 2016, with a real increase of 7.3 percent after deducting price factors.

While the income gap between urban and rural households was still large — 36,396 yuan ($5,667) in cities and 13,432 yuan ($2,091) in rural areas — despite rural incomes rising at a slightly larger rate in 2017.

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