It was the summer when the rains wouldn’t stop. The lights went out. And a housing boom came to a shuddering halt.

China’s economy still grew 4.9 percent in the third quarter, matching its rate from a year earlier. But it lagged behind projections, reflecting that simply controlling the spread of the coronavirus isn’t enough to ensure smooth sailing.

First, central China was flooded by record rains over the summer, which destroyed crops and washed away homes and businesses. In September, a fuel shortage prompted rolling power outages across the country, disrupting factory production and daily life. Then came the news that mega property developer Evergrande was unable to repay its staggering debts, sending jolts of panic through the financial sector.
These challenges are weighing on the world’s second-largest economy, despite Beijing’s triumph in all but eradicating the coronavirus, a preoccupation for the past year and a half. While outbreaks are no longer a major risk that could derail production in the country, power shortages and financial turmoil just might.

“China’s growth momentum has taken a sharp hit from the combination of deleveraging, squeeze on property speculation, and energy shortages,” said Eswar Prasad, an economics professor at Cornell University.

In a news conference on Monday, National Bureau of Statistics spokesman Fu Linghui called the impacts of the energy crunch and housing crisis limited.

“Overall, China’s national economy maintained a gradual recovery in the first three quarters,” he said. “But we must see that uncertainties in international circumstances are mounting and our economic recovery remains unstable and unbalanced.”

Strong growth in electric cars, industrial robots and integrated circuits helped to buoy the economy in the third quarter. But traditional industries like cement and steelmaking experienced double-digit percentage declines.