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China’s economy is off to a solid start in 2023 following its emergence from three years of strict pandemic restrictions.

The country’s gross domestic production grew by 4.5% in the first quarter from a year ago, according to the National Bureau of Statistics on Tuesday.

Last year, GDP expanded by just 3%, badly missing the official growth target of “around 5.5%,” as Beijing’s approach to stamping out the coronavirus wreaked havoc on supply chains and hammered consumer spending.

After mass street protests gripped the country and local government ran out of cash to pay huge Covid bills, authorities finally scrapped the zero-Covid policy in December. Following a brief period of disruptions due to a Covid surge, the economy has started showing signs of recovery.

At the meeting last month of the National People’s Congress, the country’s rubber-stamp parliament, the government set a cautious growth plan for this year, with a GDP target of around 5% and a job creation target of 12 million.

As the economic recovery gains traction, investment banks and international organizations have upgraded China’s growth forecasts for this year.

In its World Economic Outlook released last week, the IMF said China is “rebounding strongly” following the reopening of its economy. The world’s second largest economy will grow 5.2% this year and 5.1% in 2024, it predicted.

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