China's economy expanded at its slowest pace since 2009 in the first quarter of 2015 amid a slowdown in construction and manufacturing activities in the world's second biggest economy, and adding pressure on policymakers to unleash aggressive stimulus measures to spark a growth revival.
China's gross domestic product grew at an annual 7 per cent in the first quarter compared with the same period a year earlier, the country's National Bureau of Statistics said on Wednesday.
China's economy grew at 7.3 per cent in the fourth quarter last year.
"We expected the fall in economic growth. As the economy enters the 'new normal', the drop in growth rate is good for structural adjustment and transformation." NBS, spokesperson Sheng Laiyun, said.
China's central bank has slashed interest rates twice by a total of 50 basis points since November in order to stimulate investment by lowering borrowing costs. But companies are unwilling to invest even at lower rates amid weakness in demand and highly indebted corporate balance sheets.
Further, monthly retail sales, industrial output and fixed asset investment figures released with the GDP numbers all missed analyst expectations.
Growth in fixed-asset investment (FAI) was at the slowest since 2000, while industrial output rose 5.6 per cent in March from a year earlier, the weakest since November 2008.