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Is China’s growth slower because it’s cleaner?

The slowdown in China's economic data has been blamed on everything from the Lunar New Year holiday to structural reforms, but it may be because the economy is coming clean, Goldman Sachs said.

The twin policy drives to clean up both corruption and pollution likely explain at least part of the economic slowdown in the fourth quarter, the bank said, adding they may continue to weigh on domestic demand ahead.

(Read more: Can China's weak PMI be blamed on Chinese New Year?)

"We view these as a part of one interlinked grand strategy to change China's growth model towards a cleaner one, politically and environmentally," Goldman said in a note. "These initiatives support each other in the sense the anti-corruption (campaign) tends to make the anti-pollution campaign more effective since local officials are less likely to 'keep one eye closed' when polluters operate illegally."

But it added, "Alongside indicators of gradually decelerating activity, they suggest increasing downside risks to the growth outlook."

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