China’s economy expanded at 9% in 2008, in a drastic slowdown marking the first time China has seen single digit growth since 2002, reports the Wall Street Journal. A soft export market and its own housing collapse slowed fourth-quarter growth to just 6.8%, threatening the government’s baseline goal of 8% annual growth—a mark many say is unrealistic for 2009.
China remains the fastest-growing economy among major players, and follows only the US and Japan in size. In 2007, it recorded its best year in more than a decade, growing 13%. But the world financial crisis has pummeled China's vital exports sector, and soft demand has resulted in millions of workers losing their jobs.