China manufacturing growth slows in April

Textile factory in central China's Anhui province
Image caption Manufacturing and export sectors have been key drivers of China economic growth in recent years

Growth in China's manufacturing sector slowed unexpectedly in April, underlining concerns that its economic recovery remains fragile.

Its Purchasing Managers' Index (PMI), a key measure of manufacturing activity, fell to 50.6, from 50.9 in March.

A sub-index of export orders also fell, signalling a weak global demand.

China has been trying to spur a fresh wave of expansion in key sectors such as manufacturing, after its growth rate fell to a 13-year low in 2012.

"The dip in April PMI shows that the foundation for China's economic recovery is still not solid," said Zhang Liqun, an economist at the Development Research Centre, a top government think tank in Beijing.

Domestic focus

China, the world's second largest economy, has relied heavily on its manufacturing and export sector to drive its economic growth.

However, a slowdown in demand from key markets such as the US and eurozone has hurt its growth in recent times.

China's economy expanded at an annual rate of 7.7% in the first three months of the year, down from 7.9% in the previous quarter.

Analysts have warned that while there have been some signs of its economy rebounding from the slowdown, the recovery is a weak one, not least because its key export markets continue to face economic problems which have hurt demand in those regions.

Some analysts have even warned that China's growth may slow further in the coming quarters.

As a result, there have been calls for Beijing to boost domestic consumption to reduce its reliance on exports, rebalance its economy and sustain its growth rate.

"We must work to stabilise domestic demand and make our economic recovery more sustainable," said Mr Zhang.

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