Industrial output growth unexpectedly weakened to 4.4 per cent last month from the same period a year earlier, the slowest pace since February 2002 and receding from 4.8 per cent in July.
"It should be noted that global economic growth has slowed down since the beginning of this year, trade protectionism is on the rise, the worldwide environment is becoming more unstable and uncertain, and there are also increasing downward pressures domestically", Fu said.
Fixed-asset investment, like real-estate, saw a 5.5 percent increase for the first eight months of the year, which is slightly lower than forecasts by analysts. Private business fell behind the state sector for the sixth straight month.
The latest Chinese economic data out for August shows the pace of economic activity clearly slowing from the already sluggish pace set in July.
China's moderate economic performance in August will not change the stable growth momentum for the full year, but more efforts are needed to counter external headwinds and boost domestic demand, according to economists. Analysts polled by Reuters had forecast a pick-up to 5.2 percent.
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Investment in real estate development rose 10.5% from a year earlier (link in Chinese) in the first eight months of 2019, down from 10.6% growth in the first seven months and marking the lowest rate since the whole of 2018, NBS data showed.
China's foreign trade added up to 2.72 trillion yuan (US$385 billion), up 0.1 percent year on year.
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang said in an interview published ahead of the data on Monday that it would "very difficult" for the economy to continue growing at 6 per cent or more and that it faced "downward pressure". China's state planner last month announced it will ease capital requirements for infrastructure projects in the second half this year.
By major product in nominal terms, sales growth of oil and oil products edged down to post a 1.2 percent decline year on year in August from the 1.1 percent drop in July, weighed on by the significant fall in year-on-year oil price inflation (Brent oil price inflation fell 18.5 percent in August from the 13.7 percent decrease in July), according to Nomura. Stripping out vehicles, retail sales rose 9.3 per cent on-year.
Last month saw dramatic escalations in the bitter trade row, with US President Donald Trump announcing new tariffs on Chinese goods from September 1, and China letting its yuan sharply weaken days later.
As well, bank lending slowed last month (helping explain the 3rd cut in bank reserve ratios this year on August 30).