"I want to say right here they are wrong," Sheng said.
June retail sales growth declined to 12.1 percent adjusted for price changes, down from the previous month's 13.8 percent. Growth in factory output edged down to 9.5 percent from May's 9.6 percent.
In a potentially bad sign for China's foreign suppliers, June import growth fell by half from May's level to 6.3 percent as factories facing weak orders cut back on raw materials purchases.
China's rapid economic growth has decelerated steadily for eight quarters, the longest slowdown since the government began reporting such data in 1992, according to Yu Bin, a Cabinet researcher. He said the previous record was six quarters.
The slowdown is due in part to controls imposed in 2010-11 to cool overheating and inflation fueled in part by Beijing's huge stimulus in response to the 2008 crisis. Chinese leaders reversed course last year and began easing controls after global demand abruptly plunged.
"It is often forgotten that this recent slowdown has been an orchestrated one" to cool inflation, said Cameron Peacock, a market analyst for Australia's IG Markets. "Mission accomplished. China now has the room to re-stimulate its economy."
Beijing is moving cautiously after its 2008 stimulus pushed up inflation and spurred a wasteful building boom. Authorities say curbs on building and home sales to cool surging housing prices will remain in place, even though pumping up the slumping construction industry offers a quick way to boost growth.
Some parts of Beijing's response to the slump threaten to set back efforts to reduce reliance on exports and government investment and to nurture more self-sustaining growth driven by domestic consumption. Wen said this week that sustaining investment should be China's priority, an acknowledgement that consumption is rising more slowly than planned.
Investment picked up in June, with spending on factories, real estate and other fixed assets rising 23.2 percent, up from the previous month's 20.1 percent.
China's relative strength conceals severe pain in some industries. Some retailers say monthly sales have fallen by as much as half this year and the Chinese shipbuilding industry association says May orders were down by almost half from a year earlier.
Associated Press researcher Zhao Liang contributed to this report.
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