China’s US$13 trillion economy is not under severe pressure and was in better shape than many observers believed before Beijing signed a phase on trade deal with Washington, according to a new government survey. Instead of crumbling under the weight of US President Donald Trump’s tariffs, Chinese investors, producers and exporters have on the whole shown resilience against the external headwinds, despite a moderate deceleration in headline economic growth this year, a government-linked think tank said. Chen Changsheng, head of macroeconomic analysis at Development Research Centre, which is tied to China’s cabinet, the State Council, told a symposium at the Peking University over the weekend that economic fundamentals “are not that bad”. One in eight, or 12.6 per cent, of Chinese enterprises had downsized their workforce in 2019, and 2.5 per cent had “relatively large lay-offs”, said Chen, citing the results of the nationwide survey conducted by the think tank. Just under three quarters of the 10,000 firms surveyed said orders were stable or set to rise through the first half of 2020, Chen said. In addition, 42.5 per cent of businesses said they were willing to expand investment and another 43.6 per cent would maintain the status quo, while 13.9 per cent plan to scale back investment. Chen said the numbers do not add up to a picture of “severe economic difficulty” in historical terms, leading his think tank to advise the Chinese government it was “not pessimistic for the year of 2020”. China’s economic growth slipped to 6.0 per cent in the third quarter, the lowest rate since records began in March 1992, and it is tipped to slow further in coming quarters. Despite better than expected industrial and retail data in November, many analysts have struck a more cautious tone. “Downward pressure on growth is likely to resurface before long,” said Martin Lynge Rasmussen, a China economist at Capital Economics. “Admittedly, the phase one US-China trade deal could boost both export activity and corporate investment in the near term. But real estate, a key prop to growth in recent quarters, is primed for a moderation as financing to the sector is being squeezed by a regulatory crackdown.” Admittedly, the phase one US-China trade deal could boost both export activity and corporate investment in the near term. But real estate, a key prop to growth in recent quarters, is primed for a moderation as financing to the sector is being squeezed by a regulatory crackdown Martin Lynge Rasmussen China’s senior Communist Party leadership, including President Xi Jinping, were last week relatively optimistic at the conclusion of the government’s annual economic policymaking meeting, the Central Economic Work Conference , although they cited the need to increase stability in their goals for the coming year. Sheng Songcheng, the former chief of statistics at the People’s Bank of China, the country’s central bank, said last week that China’s economy is about to bottom out at 6.0 per cent growth, citing the improving infrastructure investment and the support of consumer spending. China would be able to keep growth above 6.0 per cent in 2020, he told a forum in the Chinese city of Guangzhou. The agreement of a phase one trade deal between Beijing and Washington at the weekend will provide some well-needed tariff relief for China and remove uncertainty clouding investment and trade decisions. Monthly economic indicators released by the National Bureau of Statistics on Monday showed a broad-based improvement in the world’s second biggest economy. Industrial output expanded 6.2 per cent in November, while retail sales rose 8 per cent last month. The data pointed to “positive” developments in the economy and showcased its “strong resilience”, agency spokesman Fu Linghui said. Louis Kuijs, the head of Asia economics at Oxford Economics, wrote in a note that the phase one deal between China and the US will “have a favourable impact on sentiment and confidence in China” and Beijing can easily stabilise growth at a reasonable range without major policy easing in 2020. The research firm has revised its China gross domestic product growth forecast for 2020 to 6 per cent from 5.7 per cent. However, Nomura Asia economists led by Lu Ting wrote in a note that the acceleration of growth in industrial production and retail sales last month was “more likely noise than a trend”, as China’s economic growth has yet to hit bottom.