China’s economy grew last year at the second slowest rate in almost half a century – in a sign of how the country’s strict coronavirus regulations have affected businesses.

Official figures show gross domestic product (GDP) in the world’s second largest economy rose by 3% in 2022.

That is way below the government’s target of 5.5% but better than most economists had forecast.

Last month Beijing abruptly lifted its strict zero-Covid policy.

The policy had a major impact on the country’s economic activity last year but the sudden relaxation of the rules has led to a jump in Covid cases that threatens to also drag on growth in the early part of this year.

Other than at the start of the pandemic in 2020, when full-year GDP expanded 2.2%, last year’s economic growth was the weakest since 1976.