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Guest Opinion: China's economic miracle continues

Source:Xinhua 2024-01-28

Amid unprecedented uncertainty and pressure in the domestic and international environment, China's economic growth beat the whole-year target of around 5 percent set at the beginning of the year.

An employee works at a wheel loader assembly line of a Develon subsidiary in Yantai, east China's Shandong Province, Dec. 26, 2023. (Xinhua/Guo Xulei)

by Xin Ping

The few China-naysayers must be surprised or even disappointed to see the Chinese economic performance data in 2023.

According to the release by the National Bureau of Statistics last week, the country's GDP grew by 5.2 percent, reaching 126 trillion yuan (about 17.71 trillion U.S. dollars). Impressive and promising.

Amid unprecedented uncertainty and pressure in the domestic and international environment, China's economic growth beat the whole-year target of around 5 percent set at the beginning of the year, sending a clear signal to the world that despite obstacles and challenges in pursuing high-quality development, China has established, after years of development, sound and solid fundamentals, laying the foundation for stable growth.

Major economic indicators are fairly good. As consumption and services began to play a bigger role in China's economy, the added value of the services sector accounted for 54.6 percent of the GDP, and final consumption contributed 82.5 percent of the overall GDP growth. This reflects the ongoing shift of China's economy from investment and export-led growth to more domestic demand-driven development.

Tourism is a good example. From the "Barbecue City" Zibo to the "Ice City" Harbin, cultural tourism boom helped many Chinese cities make international headlines in the past year.

Behind the rebound of domestic demand was the growth of residents' income. More people have more money in their pockets. Data show that the per capita disposable income of residents nationwide, after deducting price factors, grew by 6.1 percent year-on-year, outpacing the GDP in 2023. Over 400 million Chinese people are now in the middle-income bracket, and the number is expected to reach 800 million in the next decade or so.

Tourists check out in a duty-free shopping mall in Sanya, south China's Hainan Province, Sept. 30, 2023. (Xinhua/Guo Cheng)

Higher incomes resulted from stable employment. The surveyed unemployment rate in urban areas for 2023 was 5.2 percent, a drop of 0.4 percentage points from the previous year. In particular, there was a relative increase in migrant workers who could find employment close to their home regions.

China's youth unemployment rate, a missing figure that had been over-interpreted by the West since August last year, was back and better. Unemployment rates for people aged 16-24 and 25-29, excluding students, stood at 14.9 percent and 6.1 percent, a big drop compared to the last report.

We should always bear in mind that those encouraging figures are not only for the good of statistics, they are a reflection of the daily life of every ordinary Chinese. Each time I see a small shop, a grocery or a boutique reopened in my neighbourhood, people queuing in line in restaurants and cinemas, deliverymen racing against time to millions of households, even the recurrence of traffic jams and brightly-lit office buildings, I can feel that China has now well recovered from the slump it experienced in the pandemic time and the Chinese economy is now fully catching up.

This recovery is not only for China's domestic market but also for its interaction with the world. China keeps attracting more foreign investment and advanced technology. Investment in the high-tech sector grew 10.3 percent in the past year. Those cutting-edge industries, such as biotechnology, artificial intelligence and cloud computing, received more funding and policy incentives from the government and the international market, creating new growth engines and enhancing competitiveness. From January to November 2023, the number of newly established foreign-invested enterprises in China increased by 36.2 percent year-on-year.

International trade is picking up as well, propelled by some leading industries. China has remained the world's top manufacturing hub for 14 consecutive years. Over half of the world's new energy vehicles (NEVs) run on roads in China, and its NEV ownership has reached over 20 million units. China powers on average 6 out of 10 electric cars in the world. Combined exports of EVs, lithium-ion batteries and solar cells reached 1.06 trillion yuan in 2023, up 29.9 percent year-on-year. These sectors are gaining momentum for development from rising domestic and global demand for clean energy and transportation.

This aerial photo shows travelers going through automated gateways at the departure hall of Hengyang East Station in Hengyang, central China's Hunan Province, Oct. 5, 2023. (Photo by Cao Zhengping/Xinhua)

The speed of foreign capital inflows and the growing trade volume show nothing but the great confidence in the Chinese economy and the leading role it played in the world economy. According to the International Financial Forum, China contributes 32 percent to the global economic growth in 2023 and remains the largest engine of the world development.

The trust from the international community in China's prospect of further development once again shattered those narratives such as "China's economy will collapse," "China's growth has reached its peak" and so on. And the strong recovery of China's economy and its deep integration into world economy once again proves that to decouple with China or building up walls against it is only an illusion. Just as Premier Li Qiang pointed out at the Davos Forum, choosing the Chinese market is never a risk, but an opportunity; China has always provided and will continue to provide strong impetus for the world economy.

Resilience, vitality and potential are the key words to describe China's economic performance in 2023. With good governance of the country and the great diligence of every ordinary Chinese, China's economy is expected to maintain a steady and sound growth. China's economic miracle is sure to continue in the years ahead.

Editor's note: The author is a commentator on international affairs, writing regularly for Xinhua News, CGTN, Global Times, China Daily etc. He can be reached at xinping604@gmail.com.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the positions of Xinhua News Agency.

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