China prides itself on firm, “unswerving” leadership and stable economic growth. That should make its fortunes easy to predict. But in recent months, the world’s second-biggest economy has been full of surprises, wrong-footing seasoned China-watchers and savvy investors alike.
In the first three months of this year, for example, China’s economy grew more quickly than expected, thanks to its surprisingly abrupt exit from the covid-19 pandemic. Then in April and May, the opposite happened: the economy recovered more slowly than hoped. Figures for retail sales, investment and property sales all fell short of expectations.