S&P downgraded China to A+ from AA-, a one notch change. It may however be worth reading between the lines.
Standard & Poor's cut its rating on China's long-term debt rating following a prolonged period of strong credit growth that has increased the country's financial and economic risks. Moody's lowered its sovereign rating in May on similar concerns.
S&P said the recent government efforts to rein in borrowing by companies could help mitigate financial risks, although it still expects that Chinese corporate debts will continue to grow over the next two to three years at levels that increase financial risks gradually.
Although this credit growth had contributed to strong real GDP growth and higher asset prices, S&P said it has diminished financial stability to some extent. In any case, the bulk of China's government debt is bought by state-owned banks and held to maturity, the economist noted.
Beijing has been clamping down on bank lending and property purchases, but those efforts are complicated by the government's determination to meet its full-year growth target of around 6.5 percent.
China's gross domestic product (GDP) grew 7.3 percent in 2014, 6.9 percent in 2015, and 6.7 percent past year, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) data.
However, Williams said, the downgrade was "arguably questionable on the basis of recent economic and financial development".
The downgrade comes at a particularly awkward time for China's leaders, just weeks ahead of China's Communist Party Congress.
China is the world's second-largest economy behind the USA, and the S&P downgrade from "AA-" to "A+" is in line with similar downgrades by both Fitch and Moody's earlier this year.
The economy revealed fresh signs of headwinds in August as data showed last week that industrial output and retail sales unexpectedly slowed for a second consecutive month.
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