Hong Kong (CNN Business)China’s economy grew more than expected last year, even as the rest of the world was upended by the coronavirus pandemic.

The world’s second largest economy expanded 2.3% in 2020 compared to a year earlier, according to government statistics released Monday.

It’s China’s slowest annual growth rate in decades — not since 1976 has the country had a worse year, when GDP shrunk 1.6% during a time of social and economic tumult.

But during a year when a crippling pandemic plunged major world economies into recession, China has clearly come out on top. The expansion also beat expectations: The International Monetary Fund, for example, predicted that China’s economy would grow 1.9% in 2020. It’s the only major world economy the IMF expected to grow at all.

The pace of the recovery is also accelerating. China’s economy grew 6.5% in the fourth quarter compared to a year earlier, according to the government. That’s faster than the 4.9% growth recorded in the third quarter.

This is a developing story and will be updated.

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