Posted with permission from dpa German Press Agency

Beijing (dpa) - China's economy grew 6.9 per cent in the first quarter of 2017, a government bureau said Monday.

China's gross domestic product (GDP) was 18.07 trillion yuan (2.63 trillion dollars) in the first quarter of 2017, the National Bureau of Statistics said.

China Premier Li Keqiang in March announced a growth target for 2017 of "around 6.5 per cent or higher if possible in practice" at the annual plenary session of the National People's Congress, China's parliament.

The world's second-largest economy grew 6.8 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2016 and 6.7 per cent for the whole year. That outpaced many countries but marked the slowest growth in China in more than a quarter of a century.

Monday's figure represented the fastest growth since the third quarter of 2015 and was "better than previous expectations," said Liu Yuanchun, a professor of economics at Renmin University in Beijing.

The surprise surge most likely derived from central government infrastructure spending, effective supply-side reforms, improved trade, an industrial resurgence, stable private investment and growing corporate confidence, he told dpa.

Industrial output rose 7.6 per cent last month from a year earlier as China's ruling Communist party authorities seek to shore up economic stability ahead of a key leadership reshuffle later this year.

The announcement on April 1 of the new Xiongan economic zone portends a potential construction boom in the run-up to President Xi Jinping's second term.

The booming property market, which accounts for about 15 per cent of GDP, continued to rise despite a raft of restrictions on apartment purchases and home loans.

Investment in property development rose 9.1 per cent in the first three months from a year earlier, compared with 8.9 per cent in the first two months and 6.9 per cent in 2016.

In February, the Chinese central bank raised short-term interest rates to address Chinese debt that exceeds 260 per cent of the GDP.

In September, the Bank for International Settlements warned that a China banking crisis was looming in the next three years.