Tightly matching market expectations, China's economy in 2021 expanded 8.1 percent from a year ago.
Given the Chinese government's modest goal of "above 6 percent", the figure could seem impressive at a first glance.
But the real concern is the constant slowdown of the quarterly figures.
According to China's National Bureau of Statistics on Monday, China's economy further slowed in the final quarter to 4 percent.
While the country started off 2021 strongly with a staggering 18 percent growth in Q1 based on robust exports, the growth momentum faded throughout the year.
The slowdown was widely expected as the country struggled with both internal and external headwinds.
Experts say the Chinese economy was dragged down by a weaker property market amid fallout from the Evergrande crisis, as Beijing tightened its grip on debt in the property sector.
Strict COVID-19 measures, surging prices of raw materials, and global supply bottlenecks also put a strain on China's growth engine.
But the seemingly disappointing 4 percent figure for Q4 was still higher than the market expectations.
Bloomberg had forecast China's Q4 GDP to grow 3.5 percent and 8 percent for 2021.
The outlook for the country continues to look bleak into the new year.
Citing the property market slowdown as the biggest threat in the near term, U.S. investment bank JP Morgan earlier projected the country's economy will grow 4.9 percent in 2022.
Goldman Sachs revised down its 2022 growth forecast to 4.3 percent, based on the on-going pandemic.
Experts are wary that the economic downturn in China could also have a knock-on effect on other countries including South Korea.
"China accounts for around 26 percent of South Korea's exports so if China suffers then our exports will take the hit. Also, because China's economy is so big, it has a broad impact on the global economy which could again, in turn affect Korea. "
The expert added that risks such as the U.S.-China relations in terms of trade as well as global supply chain issues could further hinder China's growth this year.
Kim Sung-min, Arirang News.