China's Ministry of Commerce has held a press conference, revealing the latest figures on vehicle and online retail sales, among others. It also responded to the concerns on the return of the investment under the “Belt and Road" initiative.
The sale of vehicles continues to be an important pillar of China's consumption market, with nearly 30-million units sold last year. China ranks first worldwide in terms of car sales, topping the list eight years in a row. The sale of SUVs continues its high growth rate, and the popularity of small-displacement and green cars have also spiked.
Another area to watch is online retail sales, which reached about 750 billion US dollars in 2016, with a year-on-year growth rate of 26%. E-commerce has become a major driving force of retail sales, with a higher growth rate than those of departmental stores and shopping malls. The online shopping boom was led by rural areas.
"Online shopping in the mid-west area and small cities has seen an obvious higher growth rate than the average one, and has become new consumption driving force," Chinese Commerce Ministry spokesman Sun Jiwen said.
The Commerce Ministry also addressed financial concerns with China's "Belt and Road" initiative. But it said cooperation with countries that are part of the initiative has been going well. Last year, Chinese companies signed contracts across 61 countries worth 126 billion US dollars. The ministry says it will let the market play a more important role in the future.
"We will mainly stick to market operations, let the enterprises play the leading role, and facilitate the implementation of key projects. We hope we can get an early harvest to better help the countries involved and their people," Sun said.
China's Ministry of Commerce says some key projects under the "Belt and Road" initiative require large investments, and long-term commitment to see adequate returns. But the "Belt and Road" initiative has resulted in improvements in the infrastructure of many countries, helping facilitate economic development.