BEIJING (AP) — China's economic growth slowed in the final quarter of 2011 to its lowest rate in 2 1/2 years as U.S. and European consumer demand plunged and Beijing fought inflation.
The world's second-largest economy grew by 8.9 percent in the three months ending in December, data showed Tuesday. It was the slowest expansion since the second quarter of 2009, when the economy grew 7.9 percent.
For the full year, the economy grew 9.2 percent, down from 2010's blistering 10.3 percent after communist leaders tightened lending and investment curbs to prevent overheating and inflation.
Hit by an abrupt plunge in Western consumer demand, regulators reversed course in late 2011 and tried to prop up growth by promising more bank lending to help struggling exporters and avert job losses and the threat of unrest.
Also in 2011, China's urban population exceeded the number of rural dwellers for the first time, rising to 51.3 percent of the nation's 1.3 billion people, the National Bureau of Statistics announced.
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