China's growth eased to 6.8% in the third quarter but remained higher than the government's full-year target, providing a boon to President Xi Jinping amid a major Communist Party congress. 

The official figures, released today by the National Statistics Bureau, showed economic growth has held steady as the pivotal leadership reshuffle unfolds in Beijing. 

"The national economy has maintained the momentum of stable and sound development in the first three quarters, with favourable factors accumulating for the economy to maintain medium-high rate of growth," the  bureau said. 

The 6.8% figure, based on an annual comparison, followed growth of 6.9% in the first and second quarters of the year and was in line with forecasts from analysts surveyed by AFP.

The government has a set a target of around 6.5% growth in 2017. 

Brisk consumer spending and strong factory output fuelled economic growth for the July to September period.

The 10.3% rise in retail sales for September from a year earlier was welcome news for the economy, which is relying on China's vast consumer pool to start spending as the economy transitions away from investment heavy growth.

"China's economy has been transitioning from a phase of rapid growth to a stage of high-quality development," Xi told an audience of 2,300 party leaders when he opened the congress yesterday.