China has handed in its economic performance sheet for the first half of 2015. While it seems lackluster at first glimpse, a closer look reveals encouraging signs.
China's headline GDP growth stayed flat at 7 percent in Q2 -- not an impressive performance compared with the first half of 2014, leading to concerns of continuous slowdown and a possible hard landing.
However, these concerns have mischaracterized the current state of the Chinese economy.
The economy, which is in a "new normal" stage of slower but steadier growth, is showing signs of bottoming out.
The property sector, a key contributor to economic growth, saw its sales grow strongly in June and Q2, and infrastructure investment accelerated in June for the first time in three months.
Another happy surprise has been the growing role of the services sector. It expanded 8.4 percent in H1 and accounted for 49.5 percent of GDP, an outstanding sign of the country's success in restructuring the economy and fostering new growth engines.
Chinese President Xi Jinping reassured local governments last week that the economy still enjoys a promising outlook despite downward growth pressure, and the leadership's confidence is well-grounded.
The economic fundamentals are still sound with stable employment, prices, grain output and income growth.
High-end industrialization and urbanization remain two major drivers to power future growth as China aims to transform itself from the world's factory into a more sophisticated manufacturer and urbanize rural areas with a current population of about 200 million.
Meanwhile, economic activity is likely to be more robust as the government's efforts to offer policy and funding support for infrastructure, ease local governments' financing pressures and loosen monetary and credit conditions gradually pay off in the second half of this year.
Last but not least, the optimism comes from increasing market confidence itself. China's manufacturing PMI figures have been above the expansion/contraction threshold for the last four months and the industrial entrepreneur confidence index also remained in expansion range in Q2.
All these signs suggest the country's GDP growth target of about 7 percent is attainable as growth picks up in the second half of this year.
The short-term outlook may still indicate structural slowdown as the economy works through a painful process of adjustment and deleveraging, but as the country's market-oriented reform, public entrepreneurship and innovation gather steam, the Chinese economy is heading toward its target growth at a slow and steady pace.