20th December 2023: China’s November key economic indicators

This episode contains segments on China’s November key economic indicators, including industrial production, retail sales, urban unemployment and fixed-asset investments; on a new research note by the Rhodium Group on how China’s slowing economic growth is likely to impact its spending on science and technology and on the State Council’s latest discussion on accelerating the establishment of a unified national market. From the Chamber’s side: the latest issue of EURObiz, which is now available to download for free, introduces the different challenges companies face in talent recruitment.


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Read more:

Chinese industrial production, November


Chinese retail sales, November


China key economic indicators, November


Rhodium report on China’s science and technology spending

Spread Thin: China’s Science and Technology Spending in an Economic Slowdown | Rhodium Group (rhg.com)

State Council executive meeting





XINHE: Hello and welcome to China Shortcuts,

MARIANN: the European Chamber’s weekly catchup on China’s business landscape.


XINHE: The growth of industrial production in China picked up speed in November.

MARIANN: Industrial production increased 6.6 per cent year-on-year, which was the steepest rate of growth recorded since March 2022. Out of the 41 sectors surveyed by China’s statistics bureau, production expanded in 28. One industry where production rebounded significantly in November was equipment manufacturing with a 9.8 per cent increase. A breakdown by companies’ ownership structure showed that production grew over 7 per cent compared to the same period last year at state-owned and equity-owned industrial firms. Meanwhile, foreign-invested and private companies recorded more modest year-on-year growth – at 4.4 per cent and 5.2 per cent respectively.  


XINHE: Retail sales surged 10.1 per cent year-on-year, which was the highest rate of growth recorded since May.

MARIANN: The increase in Chinese retail sales accelerated for the fourth consecutive month in November. The rebound in sales was primarily focussed in catering sales, which grew almost 26 per cent in November. Sales of goods increased only 8 per cent year-on-year, but in total value it was more than 6 times higher than catering sales in November alone.


XINHE: Other highlights from China’s November key economic indicators, released by the National Bureau of Statistics on 15th December,  included the country’s urban unemployment rate and data on fixed asset investments.

MARIANN: China’s urban unemployment rate stood at 5 per cent in November, remaining unchanged from the previous two months.

While fixed asset investments increased in the first eleven months of the year, compared to the same period in 2022, the rate of growth decelerated from a 5.5 per cent high in January-February to 2.9. per cent in the January-November period. Meanwhile, private investment in fixed assets shrank 0.5 per cent year-on-year.


XINHE: In a research note published on 15th December, the Rhodium Group predicts that China’s slowing economic growth might also put the breaks on its ambitions for technological self-reliance.

MARIANN: The Rhodium Group highlights that unlike in other technologically advanced economies, innovation in China relies heavily on government funding. Furthermore, about two-third of the total government spending on science and technology in 2022 came from local governments, many of which are facing increasing pressure due to high levels of debt. In the note, the Washington-based think tank opines that China could still make significant progress in technological innovation if it channels funding into a limited number of key areas. Among the areas most likely to be given priority, the note lists those labelled as core strategic sectors in the 2023 Government Work Report, including AI and high-end chips.


XINHE: On 18th December, at an executive meeting chaired by Chinese Premier Li Qiang, the State Council discussed accelerating the establishment of a unified national market.

MARIANN: Some of the relevant tasks listed at the meeting were the elimination of any obstacles such as market segmentation and local protectionism and the promotion of reforms in key areas. While the proposed establishment of a ‘unified national market’ was touted as a move towards the creation of an efficient, standardised and competitive market, it  brings together under one umbrella many items that have been on China’s to-do list for quite some time, such as implementing free flow of labour and improving intellectual property rights protection.  


XINHE: During the COVID-19 pandemic, as China closed its borders and implemented stringent prevention measures, many foreign nationals were either locked out of the country and unable to return, or moved back home or to other countries where they could see their families more easily.

MARIANN: When China reopened its borders, it was hoped that this trend would quickly reverse. However, many European Chamber member companies are still struggling to attract and retain staff, which demonstrates that zero-COVID was not the only problem.

XINHE: Read the November/December edition of the Chamber’s bimonthly magazine EURObiz to find out more about the different challenges companies face in talent recruitment. You can access all articles for free on the EURObiz website.


MARIANN: Thanks for listening. Tune in again in January, when we will be back with new episodes.

XINHE: In the meantime, please find useful links in the episode notes.

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