The decline compares with a 38.3% slump in January-February, which was the steepest decline since at least 2010.
For January-March, industrial firms’ profits fell 36.7% on an annual basis to 781.45 billion yuan.
Liabilities at industrial firms rose 5.4% on year at end-March, versus a 5.3% increase as of end-February.
The industrial profit data covers large firms whose annual revenue exceeds 20 million yuan from their main operations.
The slide in profits reflects continued pressure on China’s manufacturing sector, hard-hit by slowing global demand from the coronavirus pandemic and the contraction of China’s economy for the first time in nearly 30 years in the first quarter.
($1 = 7.0700 yuan)
Reporting by Roxanne Liu and Gabriel Crossley; Editing by Tom Hogue