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China Exports Are Down, but Growth Is Still Up

A construction crew works on a high-speed railway line near Shanghai
A construction crew works on a high-speed railway line near ShanghaiPhotograph by Qilai Shen/Bloomberg

With the European debt crisis, Japan’s return to recession, and the U.S. fiscal cliffhanger, China’s ability to keep on growing is getting a triple test. This week, both China bears and China bulls can point to numbers that seem to prove their cases.

For those downbeat about China’s chances, the grim export figures for November are the latest piece of evidence. Export growth fell to just 2.9 percent year-on-year last month, down from 11.6 percent in October. The November results were much lower than what many economists had expected: Barclays, for instance, had thought the number would come in at 11 percent; Daiwa was expecting 9.2 percent.