CHONGQING, July 13 (Xinhua) -- Officials in the southwestern metropolis Chongqing said economic growth in the first half of the year was robust, despite a lull brought about by political scandals.
The municipality's economy stumbled in February and March due to the global economic downturn and "severe economic and social impact" caused by scandals revolving around ex-officials Wang Lijun and Bo Xilai, Mayor Huang Qifan said at an economic conference held in Chongqing on Thursday.
The scandals led many foreign investors to suspend their expansion plans in the megacity and disrupted the municipal government's efforts to attract investment, Huang said.
Huang said the downward trend was reversed in mid-March after Zhang Dejiang, the newly elected secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Chongqing Municipal Committee, initiated active measures to boost the economy.
Chongqing's gross domestic product (GDP) for the first quarter grew by 14.4 percent and its GDP growth between January and June is expected to surpass the national average, according to a report delivered by Huang.
Other readings also suggest a rebound. The city's industrial value-added output increased by 16.5 percent year on year, while its foreign trade volume registered a 170-percent rise, the report said.
In the same period, the city utilized foreign direct investment worth 3.7 billion U.S. dollars, up 27 percent year on year.
"It (Chongqing) is like a child who will definitely grow taller during his adolescence," said Tong Xiaoping, vice mayor of Chongqing.
Chongqing officials have on various occasions reaffirmed the city's welcoming attitude toward foreign companies in an effort to dispel the negative impact that the scandals had on the city's business environment.
Vice Premier Zhang Dejiang, who replaced Bo in March as the Party secretary, has promised unremitting efforts to consolidate the city's role as a global leader in information technology.
Several heavyweight foreign investors have expressed confidence in Chongqing's prospects. Hewlett-Packard, one world-leading PC vendor, signed an agreement in April to build a new plant in Chongqing.
But the city still faces difficulties in terms of boosting its real economy and fiscal revenues. The retreat of foreign investment and waning external demand also threaten the manufacturing sector, Huang said.
Huang said the city will renew its efforts to develop new industries and the service sector while continue to attract foreign investment in the city's infrastructure and industries.