China registered steady economic growth with improved quality and efficiency in 2020 despite the impact of the novel coronavirus pandemic, said the deputy head of National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) on Monday.

Speaking at a press conference in Beijing, Ning Jizhe said the results came from the joint efforts of all regions, departments and sectors in pushing forward the high-quality growth.

Ning said the primary motivation for innovation has kept increasing with the rapid development of new industries.

He said the business income of strategic emerging service companies with an annual sales revenue of 20 million yuan or more increased by 8.6 percent in the first 11 months of 2020 year on year.

The figure was seven percentage points higher than the average growth of such large-size Service Companies

According to the NBS Deputy Chief, the outputs of industrial robots, new energy vehicles, and integrated circuits, all increased at high rates, and the number of high-tech SMEs and enterprises has exceeded 200,000.

Ning said new steps have been taken industrial restructuring, and the added values of equipment manufacturing and high-tech manufacturing industrial companies were higher than the average added value of all large size industrial enterprises as a whole.

The official added the gap between urban and rural development has continued to narrow.

He said the income of rural residents has grown faster than that of urban residents.

Ning also introduced the outcome of green development, saying the energy consumption per unit of GDP decreased in 2020.

He said the percentage of clean energy such as natural gas, wind and sunlight used in the overall energy consumption grew larger last year than in the previous year.

The official said 2020 also witnessed improvement in environmental protection as PM2.5 concentration in 337 cities of prefecture-level and above decreased by 8.3 per cent, compared with the figure in the previous year.

Speaking of opening up, Ning said agreements made in 2020 will facilitate further advancement in this respect.

“Amid the shrinking global trade and cross-border investment, China’s trade in goods and paid-in foreign investment both registered growth, which has played an important role in stabilizing the economic fundamentals. In the past year, fast progress was made in constructing the Hainan Free Trade Port.

We had frequent economic and trade exchanges with countries along the Belt & Road. The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (RCEP) was signed, and the negotiations for the China-EU Investment Agreement were completed. These have injected a strong impetus for opening up and development,” said Ning.

One of the features of high-quality development is to ensure the people can share the fruits of the growth.

“China’s poverty alleviation efforts have achieved remarkable results, with absolute poverty and overall regional poverty both eliminated. The employment situation is generally stable as the surveyed unemployment rate has bounced back to the level of the same period in the previous year”.

“The quality of life of residents has significantly improved, with the rapid increase in durable consumer goods. Our capability to guarantee basic public services has been continuously strengthened, along with the accelerated construction of a multi-level social security system and the promotion of educational, cultural, and health sectors,” added Ning.