China Curbs Steel Output, but Familiar Economic Pressures Test Its Mettle

HONG KONG—A two-month fall in China’s steel output, ordered by economic officials, handed Beijing a global showcase for advancing climate goals and controlling commodity markets. A brewing economic slowdown is testing the government’s will to sustain the cuts.

China’s production of crude steel, half the world’s annual total, fell in July by the widest year-on-year margin since the 2008 global financial crisis. Early indicators suggest it might slip again this month. Culled by state inspections and other official curbs at mills nationwide, the usually prodigious flow that is often the subject of global trade and environmental tensions has fallen by 12.5 million metric tons—about twice Britain’s annual total—in July from May’s record high.