We dont expect large stimulus, given that that remains unpopular in Beijing. Instead, we think policymakers will accept low growth this year, given the prospects for a better 2021, said Louis Kuijs, an analyst with Oxford Economics.

The huge decline shows the profound impact that the virus outbreak, and the governments draconian reaction to it, had on the worlds second largest economy. It wipes out the 6% expansion in Chinas economy recorded in the last set of figures at the end of last year.

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As a result, economists had expected bleak figures, but the official data comes in slightly worse than expected.

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Beijing has signalled a significant economic stimulus is on the way as it tries to stabilise its economy and recover. Earlier this week the official mouthpiece of the ruling Communist Party, the Peoples Daily, reported it would expand domestic demand.

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The financial toll the coronavirus is having on the Chinese economy will be a huge concern to other countries.

and has been dubbed the worlds factory.Dr Mahinder Watsa: Indias most famous sexpert dies at 963KFC launches game console with built-in chicken warmer7The measure restores unemployment benefits and averts a partial US government shutdown.™China is an economic powerhouse as a major consumer and producer of goods and services.Factory output was down 1.1% for March as China slowly starts manufacturing again.Police name Nashville camper van blast suspectbut this is a gradual process to return to pre-lockdown levels.Covid: South Africa passes one million infections as cases surge10How to build an igloo (when the climate is changing)playHow bad information went viral in 2020. VideoHow bad information went viral in 2020Chinas economy shrank for the first time in decades in the first quarter of the year,China has slowly started letting factories resume production and letting businesses reopen,but not on the same scale as other major economies.Covid: Trump signs relief and spending package into law2Seismic change: How Covid-19 altered world events in 2020Zhang Zhan: China jails citizen journalist for Wuhan reports4China relies heavily on its factories and manufacturing plants for economic growth,playWhat impact has Covid had on global climate? VideoWhat impact has Covid had on global climate?The worlds second biggest economy contracted 6.8% according to official data released on Friday.Coronavirus: Macron questions Chinas handling of outbreakSince March,as the virus forced factories and businesses to close.Among other key figures released in Fridays report:She is very beautiful and intelligent but she is IndianChina has unveiled a range of financial support measures to cushion the impact of the slowdown,

Japans Nikkei 225 jumped 2.5% on Friday, although this was largely due to gains on Wall Street afterUS President Donald Trump unveiled plans to ease lockdowns.

Last year, China saw healthy economic growth of 6.4% in the first quarter, a period when it was locked in a trade war with the US.

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On Thursday the International Monetary Fund forecast Chinas economy would avoid a recession but grow by just 1.2% this year. Job figures released recently showed the official government unemployment figure had risen sharply, with the number working in companies linked to export trade falling the most.

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This is the first time China has seen its economy shrink in the first three months of the year since it started recording quarterly figures in 1992.

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Unemployment hit 5.9% in March, slightly better than Februarys all-time high of 6.2%.

In the last two decades, China has seen average economic growth of around 9% a year, although experts have regularly questioned the accuracy of its economic data.

Its economy had ground to a halt during the first three months of the year as it introduced large-scale shutdowns and quarantines to prevent the virus spread in late January.

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But the slowdown in the rest of the global economy presents a significant problem as exports still play a major role in Chinas economy. If it comes this will not be a quick recovery.

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Stock markets in the region showed mixed reaction to the Chinese economic data, with Chinas benchmark Shanghai Composite index up 0.9%.

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Retail sales plummeted 15.8% last month as many of shoppers stayed at home.

The GDP contraction in January-March will translate into permanent income losses, reflected in bankruptcies across small companies and job losses, said Yue Su at the Economist Intelligence Unit.