Beijing: A day after China's Communist Party Congress wrapped up, China unexpectedly released delayed economic data which showed weak growth prompting markets to plunge, media reports said.

Last week, China's National Bureau of Statistics delayed the release of GDP and other economic indicators. However, the Bureau did not give any explanation why it was postponed from the scheduled date, October 18, reported Washington Post.

If released on the scheduled date, the release would have coincided with the much-anticipated communist party congress meeting in Beijing which saw Chinese President Xi Jinping securing an unprecedented third term on the top post.

The bureau on Monday reported that gross domestic product grew 3.9 per cent between July and September of this year which is below the Chinese government's annual target of "around 5.5 per cent."

"China's official economic data are political first, economic second. Last week's delay in the release of these numbers and then the curiously upbeat GDP figures at the close of the Party Congress underscored this point yet again," said Shehzad Qazi, managing director at China Beige Book, which collects and analyses data on China's economy, reported Washington Post.

Following the data release, Hong Kong's Hang Seng Index plunged 6 per cent to levels not seen since the 2008 financial crisis. Meanwhile, the Shanghai Composite and the Shenzhen Composite indexes both fell by about 2 per cent.

Xi Jinping's tightened political control in China has posed several challenges to his leadership as the communist nation is facing a dark economic picture while economic and social inequality continue to increase.

The crisis in China due to stringent lockdowns has triggered hopelessness among the country's masses and has only added to the political challenges for Xi Jinping. Nathan Levine and Johanna Costigan, writing in Nikkei Asia further said the control in China, since the days of Mao Zedong has been maintained by what he famously described as "the gun" (the military), "the pen" (propaganda) and "the knife" (the internal security apparatus).

China is one of the last places in the world still enforcing stringent zero-Covid measures. The heavy-handed approach has seen dozens of neighbourhoods across Shenzhen identified as "high-risk areas," and placed under strict lockdown orders.

In the last two years, while the rest of the world rose to the occasion and meandered its way through the global health crisis, China has clung to its futile attempt at feigning control over an impossible situation. Many people have been unemployed and underemployed, especially in service industries, due to the repeated lockdowns in different parts of the country.