Last year, China's crude steel production exceeded 1 billion tonnes for the first time in history, setting a new high for five consecutive years, propelled by a quick recovery in construction and manufacturing demand after COVID-19 pandemic was contained within the country.
China produced 1.05 billion tonnes of crude steel in 2020, up 5.2% from a year earlier; in December, the output increased 7.7% on the year to 91.25 million tonnes, data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showed on January 18.
Finished steel production increased 7.7% to a record 1.33 billion tonnes last year; pig iron output hit 887.52 million tonnes with a rise of 4.3%, the NBS data showed.
China's GDP climbed 6.5% in the fourth quarter last year, pushing growth to 2.3% for the whole 2020, making it the only major global economy that achieved positive growth last year.
The high growth in steel production was mainly driven by robust demand under government's stimulus policies in response to COVID-induced economic downturn, said Luo Tiejun, deputy director of China Iron and Steel Association.
"When the stimulus gradually loses the potency, China's steel production and demand will return to the normal track," he said.
As China has pledged to peak its carbon emissions in 2030, such a high growth in steel production is unsustainable. The steel industry, with the largest carbon emissions among all 31 manufacturing sectors, faces unavoidable challenges under constraints of cutting carbon emissions.
Xiao Yaqing, Minister of Industry and Information Technology, said China will "resolutely" cut crude steel output in 2021 to ensure a year-on-year decline.
(Writing by Alex Guo Editing by Tammy Yang)
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