BEIJING: Sales of cars in China topped six million in the first half of 2009, comfortably outstripping the United States where they fell to 4.8m, a number last seen in 1982.

In the week that General Motors emerges from bankruptcy (and free of most of its debts) the China figures are actually very good news for US manufacturers, including GM, which have big presences in China.

Cars aren't the only booming sector in China, according to a new survey of business confidence from the National Bureau of Statistics that shows its index moving well into positive territory with a reading of 110.2 compared to record low of 94.6 it hit in the last quarter of 2008.

Industry, construction and real estate were the strongest sectors. Many of the biggest players in these sectors are state-owned and have benefited from the Chinese government's instructions to banks to up lending. There is now a growing clamour in China for privately-owned SMEs to be supported as the country's economy recovers.

Nevertheless, the Chinese economy is back on track to hit its original target of 8% growth this year. This is very good news for Western companies other than car manufacturers.

The maker of Durex condoms has just announced that it is to open a new factory in Quingdao where it expects to produce 864m units a year along with 620 tons of lubricant.

But the Chinese government has made it clear at the G8 economic summit, via its spokesman Dai Bingguo, that it wants to see more and better-co-ordinated efforts from the so-called developed nations to make their full contribution to rapid economic recovery, pointing out that China can't do this on its own.

Data sourced from China Daily; additional content by WARC staff