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China faces uncertain future as cracks appear in economy

China’s economy is facing strong tests and any sign of weakness will hit bullish projections for its oil-demand growth

The world’s second-largest oil consumer is facing strong headwinds. After years of blistering economic growth, concern is mounting over inflation, an ailing property market, growing local government debts and the possibility that big state-owned banks could be at risk. Economic weakness in Europe, Japan and the US is also converging to dampen the very force that has fuelled China’s insatiable consumption of oil and other commodities: exports. Cracks are starting to appear. Although the economy performed better in late 2011 than predicted, trade numbers show that sales of Chinese goods abroad did not grow as hoped. A severe slump in the surplus, from $305 billion in 2010 to $29 billion in 20

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