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BEIJING: China's economy grew at its slowest pace in nearly three decades in 2018, losing more steam in the last quarter as it battles a massive debt pile and a USA trade war, official data showed Monday.

Full year GDP growth clocked in at 6.6 per cent, the slowest since 1990. The economy faltered most at the end of the year, recording 6.4 per cent growth for the fourth quarter.

"China's economy is likely to weaken further before growth stabilizes in the second half of the year on the back of expanded policy stimulus", Julian Evans-Pritchard of Capital Economics said in a report.

Research by Cornell University associate professor Jeremy Wallace in 2016 indicates that provincial Chinese public officials will exaggerate GDP growth rates that they report on to the national government, while analysis on China conducted by Bloomberg in January 2018 suggests that GDP was "probably overstated" at provincial levels between 2011 and 2015.

Trump has been pressing China to bring down the Dollars 375 billion trade deficit with the United States, which he attributes to unfair trade practices by Beijing.

New births in China fell to 15.23 million a year ago, the lowest since China relaxed its one-child policy in 2014, Trend reports referring to South China Morning Post.

Many are concerned today about the 6.6 percent expansion of the Chinese economy, but for this country, it shows its strength in an adverse 2018 and encourages it to develop niches that will bring sustainable growth.

Trade negotiators are facing an early March deadline and Washington has threatened to sharply hike tariffs on Chinese goods if there are no substantial signs of compromise from Beijing.

Beijing has also said it will pass other measures to stimulate growth, including cutting taxes and making it easier for banks to lend. They predict a further slowing to 6.3 percent this year.

China's economy expanded at the slowest pace since the global financial crisis, as a domestic financial clean-up, weakening global demand and trade conflict with the USA all dampened momentum. Ning said manufacturing and services maintained rapid growth, citing surging sales in new energy vehicles, optical fibers and smart TVs.

As the data was released, Chinese President Xi Jinping gathered the country's provincial governors and ministers in Beijing for a special session on how to manage "major risks", including ideological, political and economic risks.

This will have a severe negative impact internationally as the Chinese economy contributes over 30% to global growth, analysts said. Overall it reduced its forecast growth for the advanced economies, with growth set to drop from 2.3 percent in 2018 to 2 percent this year and falling to 1.7 percent in 2020.

Chen Xingdong, chief China economist at BNP Paribas, said investors should not expect the latest round of stimulus to produce similar results as during the 2008-09 global crisis, when Beijing's huge spending package quickly boosted growth.

"Things are going very well with China and with trade", he told reporters at the White House.

"The most important driver really has been the credit deceleration and the concerns about financial imbalances on the part of the policy makers that has led them to pursue stricter policies", he said.

Slowing disposable income growth and tighter credit has hit consumer spending with vehicle sales falling last year for the first time in more than 20 years. Last month, iPhone maker Apple issued its first revenue warning in almost 12 years, citing weak Chinese demand.