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China’s GDP expanded 9.1% year-on-year in the third quarter of the year, marking the slowest pace since the third quarter of 2009, according to

The growth rate was down from 9.5% in the second quarter of this year and 9.7 % in the first quarter, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said Tuesday.

The slowdown was a desired outcome of China’s macro-economic regulations as the government continued its efforts in curbing soaring property prices, reining in inflation and regulating local government financing vehicles, Lian Ping, the chief economist with Bank of Communications was quoted saying

The country’s GDP growth is expected to remain above 9% this year.

China’s economy expanded 2.3% on a quarterly basis in the July-September period, NBS spokesman Sheng Laiyun said at a press conference.

According to preliminary statistics, the country’s GDP reached 32.07 trillion yuan ($5.01 trillion) in the first nine months, up 9.4% year-on-year, Sheng said.

He noted the country’s economic performance was “generally good” and had developed according to macro-economic regulations in the first nine months.

Despite challenges and uncertainties both at home and abroad, it is likely that China’s economy would maintain its stable and relatively fast growth in the coming period, boosted by a strong growth momentum, Sheng said.

He said there was an obvious trend of the country’s economic development shifting from a stimulus policy-driven growth to a self-initiated mode.

Industrial value-added output rose 13.8% year-on-year in September, up from the 13.5% growth in August. Fixed assets investment rose 24.9% year-on-year in the first nine months, compared with a 25-% gain in the January-August period.

In September, the country’s retail sales expanded 17.7% from a year earlier, following an increase of 17% in August.

Sheng said the country’s consumer price increase had been “preliminarily contained” as the growth of the consumer price index (CPI), a main gauge of inflation, had fallen for two consecutive months.

It is quite likely that consumer price increase would continue to ease in the last quarter of the year, he said.

The government made curbing consumer prices a top priority in this year’s macro-economic regulations and vowed to keep the annual growth of CPI at around 4 % this year.

To mop up the excessive liquidity that helps fuel inflation, the government implemented a prudent monetary policy this year. The central bank has raised the benchmark interest rates three times this year and hiked the reserve requirement ratio for commercial banks six times.

The central bank may not relax the prudent monetary policy in the short term with the inflation rate still at a high level, said Liu Ligang, director of the economic research department of ANZ Greater China.

He added that the central bank is likely to enhance financial support for capital-strapped small and medium-sized enterprises.

“The country’s economy is heading for a soft landing,” Liu said.

Although exports would continue to moderate on weaker demand from developed economies, growth would still be supported by domestic demand, investment and consumption, he said.

Liu estimated the country’s economic growth would stand at 9.4 or 9.5% this year.

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