China's light-industry sector saw exports jump 50 percent in the first five months of this year to $15.3 billion, and officials say prospects are bright for the rest of 1995.

Government figures put the gross value of the sector's output at 761 billion yuan ($91.6 billion), based on constant 1990 prices - up 22.6 percent

from the 1994 period. Gross value added was 303 billion yuan, up 18 percent.The electronics sector registered a 26.7 percent increase in output value to 106.58 billion yuan in the first six months, according to the Ministry of the Electronics Industry. Sales reached 85.12 billion yuan, up 31.6 percent.

Among light-industrial exports, 52 items registered overseas earnings of $300 million or more, paced by travel goods ($1.3 billion) and toys ($1.18 billion).

Plastic products earned $998 million, leather shoes $953 million, furniture $450 million, lighting devices $378 million, watches $370 million, bedding $340 million, leather garments $329 million and electric fans $314 million.

No market breakdown of exports has been released, but the United States is a big buyer of all those items.

Domestic consumption is also rising along with incomes, especially in the biggest cities. Retail sales of consumer goods rose 33 percent to 469 billion yuan in the main urban centers.

Factories reported large increases in output of watches (up 53 percent), nonalcoholic beverages (30 percent), air conditioners (29.6 percent), newsprint (23.4 percent), agricultural film (20.7 percent) and electric fans (20 percent).

Nationally, light industry reported a 93 percent ratio of production to sales.

In 1994, the value added in light-industry output grew 19.6 percent over the previous year, while that of heavy industry grew 16.5 percent. China's total industrial output reached 1.83 trillion yuan last year.

Light-industry exports last year earned about $35 billion, up from the $30 billion of 1993, government estimates show. Exports have been showing annual growth of 24 percent.

Yu Zhen, chairman of the China National Council of Light Industry, said recently that the sector's sustained growth in exports plays a vital role in the country's trade.

The sector has more than 5,000 foreign-backed joint ventures, which help improve product quality. Southern Guangdong province, the country's largest light-industrial exporter, reckons that half its overseas sales are by joint ventures.