BEIJING (REUTERS) – China’s Premier Li Keqiang said on Tuesday (July 19) the recovery in the Chinese economy from a recent bout of weakness is not yet firmly established and “painstaking”efforts are needed to stabilise overall economic performance, according to state media.

China will keep macro policies consistent and targeted, and strive for relatively good results in economic development for the whole year, Li said at the Special Virtual Dialogue with Global Business Leaders hosted by the World Economic Forum.

The government has set a full-year economic growth target of around 5.5 per cent.

For the first half of 2022, gross domestic product grew just 2.5 per cent from a year earlier.

Growth slowed sharply in the second quarter to 0.4 per cent year-on-year due to the toll from widespread Covid-19 lockdowns.

Youth unemployment climbed to a record of 19.3 per cent last month.

Still, some data from industrial production to retail sales showed signs of improvement in June.

“As long as employment is relatively sufficient, household income grows and prices are stable, slightly higher or lower growth rates are both acceptable,” Li said, without saying whether he was referring to quarterly or yearly economic growth.

Full or partial lockdowns were imposed in Chinese cities in March and April, including Shanghai. While many of those curbs have since been lifted, and June data offered signs of respite, analysts do not expect a rapid economic recovery.

China is adamant that it stick to its tough zero-Covid policy amid fresh flare-ups, while the country’s property market is entrenched in a deep slump and the global outlook remains uncertain.