Employees work on the production line of a heavy machinery company in Tangshan, Hebei province, in December. (MOU YU / XINHUA)

BEIJING – Profits of China's major industrial firms saw accelerated growth in the first two months of this year as the economy further firms up from the COVID-19-induced woes, official data showed Saturday.

Due to the impact of the virus epidemic, China's major industrial firms saw their profits decline by 38.3% year on year in the first two months last year

Industrial firms with an annual business turnover of at least 20 million yuan (about US$3.06 million) saw their combined profits surge 179 percent year on year during the Jan.-Feb. period to 1.11 trillion yuan, data from the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) showed.

When compared with the first two months of 2019, the figure represented a rise of 72.1 percent. The average growth rate in the past two years stood at 31.2 percent, NBS data showed.

The notable rebound was a combined result of recovery in both domestic and external demand, a low comparison base and longer production hours by firms as workers "stayed put" for the Chinese Lunar New Year holiday this year, NBS senior statistician Zhu Hong said.

Due to the impact of the COVID-19 epidemic, China's major industrial firms saw their profits decline by 38.3 percent year on year in the first two months last year.

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The country quickly adopted a string of measures to coordinate epidemic control and production resumption. According to previous NBS data, all major indicators of consumption, investment and industrial production posted double-digit year-on-year growth in the first two months this year.

In a breakdown by ownership, state-controlled industrial firms saw their profits surge 182 percent from a year earlier while profits of private industrial firms jumped 137 percent year on year, NBS data showed.

Meanwhile, foreign-invested industrial firms saw their combined profits surge 219 percent from a year ago.

Profits in 38 of the 41 surveyed industrial sectors rose from the previous year, and profits of 24 sectors have more than doubled, according to the NBS.

The manufacturing sector made an impressive comeback, with profits in equipment and high-tech manufacturing sectors jumping more than 700 and 300 percent from last year, respectively. Thanks to surging demand for vaccines and anti-epidemic supplies, the pharmaceutical industry saw profits rise 95.4 percent year on year.

While major industrial firms continued a sound momentum of recovery, there remained challenges such as external uncertainties and unbalanced improvement across different sectors, said Zhu, urging efforts to consolidate the recovery.

China aims to expand its gross domestic product by over 6 percent year on year in 2021, with more efforts on reform, innovation and high-quality development, according to this year's government work report.