China, with roaring recovery, is closer to a ‘moderately prosperous economy’
Published: Jan 18, 2021 06:26 PM

Photo: CFP

China's gross domestic product in 2020 expanded by 2.3 percent, reaching a total of 101.59 trillion yuan ($15.68 trillion), according to National Bureau of Statistics in figures released on Monday. As widely predicted, the nation is the world's only major economy that recorded growth, while other economies contracted at different rates. 

The achievement has catapulted China to the brink of reaching the goal of becoming a 'moderately prosperous country'. The upcoming two years of 2021 and 2022 will be significant and vital, if the country is able to sustain the current development momentum, consolidating improved living standards for its vast residents.  

The last 12 months have demonstrated China has the resilience and confidence to overcome whatever difficulties and scale new heights.

The past year of 2020 was a bitter-sweet year for 1.4 billon Chinese people, as the nation was the first in the world to be disrupted by the once-in-a-century novel coronavirus outbreak in late 2019 and early 2020. However, the country managed to stand up firmly, get to resume a state close to normal life, following painstaking efforts to curtail the virus spread and dampen its resurgence. 

Correspondingly, the economy plunged in the first quarter of 2020 by 6.8 percent, only to later bounce back by staging a 3.2 percent gain in the second quarter thanks to the government's endeavor to largely control the virus and rushing a large stimulus plan to support millions of businesses to be solvent and not lay off jobs. 

The world's second largest economy has returned to its pre-COVID trajectory by growing 4.9 percent in the fall quarter, and achieving an impressive 6.5 percent rise from October to December, fired on by rising investment, consumption and export. 

Many foreign media outlets use "draconian" to describe Beijing's strict measures to blunt the onslaught of the voracious virus as the whole Hubei Province and Wuhan city were shut down for 76 days from January to April, after the country's epidemiologists ascertained the new virus is highly contagious and lethal. 

Facing a previously unknown and highly contagious virus, it was absolutely necessary to mandate "no-movement" in Hubei, in order to cut off the virus' transmission to other provinces and regions. The lockdown, though highly damaging to the economy, proved effective in stifling the virus, which laid the foundation for the economy's roaring comeback. The Chinese government's drastic anti-virus measures have been shown to be highly successful and may be used during future public health crises. 

China will likely record economic growth of more than 15 percent in the first three months this year, with the whole year growth estimated at more than 8 percent. The GDP has the capacity to reach $17 trillion in 2021, as the pent-up consumption of the country's 500 million middle class will be set free, and the government kicks off a new Five-Year Plan by investing heavily on infrastructure and technology. 

Meanwhile, exports are poised to grow by about 10 percent in 2021, as other economies walk out of the virus crisis and re-pump, and China's factories run at full capacity to back up rising overseas demand. 

However, challenges remain ongoing. China-US relations are now at their historical lows after four tumultuous four years of Donald Trump. Beijing needs to navigate the relations together with the incoming Biden administration. It is hoped that the new president will bring more certainty and predictability to the world's most important bilateral relationship. These two countries in partnership can quickly end the scourge of coronavirus, and get the global economy back on track. 

The author is an editor with the Global Times.