China's gross domestic product expanded by 4.8 percent in the first quarter from a year earlier, beating analysts' expectations for a 4.4 percent gain and picking up from 4.0 percent in the fourth quarter.
China's economic growth has accelerated in the first quarter of the year to 4.8 percent, but the government has warned of "significant challenges" ahead with massive Covid-19 lockdowns starting to bite.
The world's second-biggest economy lost steam in the latter half of last year with a property slump and regulatory crackdowns, pulling down growth.
But it exceeded expectations in the first three months of 2022, growing 4.8 percent on-year, the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) said on Monday, with Lunar New Year spending and factory production cajoling growth.
The weeks ahead, however, appear difficult with Beijing's zero-Covid approach to outbreaks clogging supply chains and locking down tens of millions of people.
The lockdowns include the economic dynamos of Shanghai and Shenzhen as well as the northeastern grain basket of Jilin.
Virus restrictions in March have already gouged at retail sales as consumers shied away from shopping, and drove up unemployment.
"With the domestic and international environment becoming increasingly complicated and uncertain, economic development is facing significant difficulties and challenges," NBS spokesperson Fu Linghui said.
READ MORE: China's economy surpasses the European Union's for the first time
The current virus outbreak is the worst since the peak of the first wave which emerged in Wuhan in late 2019, and the economy is beginning to weaken.
Retail sales sank 3.5 percent and the urban unemployment rate ticked up to a 22-month high of 5.8 percent last month.
"March activity data suggests that China's economy slowed, especially in household consumption," Tommy Wu, lead China economist at Oxford Economics, said in a note.
China's government is trying to balance "minimising disruption against controlling the latest wave of Covid infections", Wu said, but he warned of a drag on economic activity into May or beyond.
Last week, carmakers including XPeng and Volkswagen warned of severe disruptions to supply chains and possibly even a halt on production completely if the lockdown on Shanghai's 25 million inhabitants persisted.
Already, goods are piling up at the world's busiest container port in Shanghai, prompting shipping giant Maersk to say it will stop taking new bookings for refrigerated containers into the city.
"Further impacts from lockdowns are imminent," said Iris Pang, chief economist for Greater China at ING.
READ MORE: World Bank says diversifying supply chains from China 'best for everyone'