Guangdong’s GDP largest among Chinese provinces, grows 2.3% in 2020
Published: Jan 24, 2021 09:13 PM

Workers work at the construction site of the Guangzhou Metro Line 18 in Guangzhou, south China's Guangdong Province, on Dec. 16, 2020. (Xinhua/Liu Dawei)

South China's Guangdong Province, a major manufacturing hub in the nation, achieved 2020 GDP growth of 2.3 percent year-on-year against the headwinds that the export-oriented economy faced amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the province's governor said. 

The province's GDP surpassed the 11 trillion yuan ($1.7 trillion) mark in 2020 for the first time, a jump from 7.5 trillion yuan in 2015, ranking it No.1 for the 32nd year among all Chinese provincial-level regions in terms of economic output, Guangdong's Governor Ma Xingrui said during the government work report delivered on Sunday.

The added value of the primary industry was 477 billion yuan, up 3.8 percent; that of the secondary industry was up 1.8 percent, and that of the tertiary industry was up 2.5 percent, data from the local statistics bureau showed.

Guangdong's 2020 GDP was equivalent to that of South Korea, the largest of the so-called "Four Asian Tigers" economies - South Korea, Singapore, China's Hong Kong and Taiwan. They underwent rapid industrialization and maintained high economic growth rates between the early 1960s and the 1990s.

South Korea's GDP is estimated to have contracted 1.8 percent to $1.54 trillion in 2020, ranking it No.9 in the world, according to a forecast by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. Based on the projection, Guangdong's GDP has exceeded that of South Korea, ranking it among the world's top 10.

In 1998, Guangdong's economic output surpassed that of Singapore for the first time, then Hong Kong in 2003 and the island of Taiwan in 2007.

Mei Xinyu, a research fellow at the Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation, told the Global Times on Sunday that it is expected that the Chinese economic bellwether will play a more prominent role this year in China and the world, based on its effective control of the coronavirus and supplying the world with exports.

"In this sense, Asian countries like South Korea should cooperate more closely with the Chinese economy," said Mei.

Liang Haiming, chairman of the China Silk Road iValley Research Institute, said that the economic development of Guangdong will mean that it overtakes more developed economies in the future with its huge potential.

"Located in one of the most open areas in China, Guangdong has advantages in innovation, basic research, and advanced technology," Liang told the Global Times on Sunday.

It plays a key linking role in the nation's dual circulation development path, which takes the domestic market as the mainstay and allows domestic and foreign markets to boost each other, he added.

Starting on Saturday, the "two sessions" of Guangdong Province opened in succession. Important policies related to Guangdong's development will be discussed and approved at the meetings.

In the government work report, Ma said the province will vigorously develop the digital economy and promote the development of artificial intelligence, semiconductors and seed technology.

The construction of an international science and technology innovation center in the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macao Greater Bay Area will be accelerated, Ma said. Benchmarking the world's major science centers and innovation highlands, Guangdong will create an important source of global scientific and technological innovation and promote the construction of a comprehensive national science center in the Greater Bay Area.

Despite the economic fallout of COVID-19 last year, Guangdong implemented thorough measures to get the virus under control and took early steps to resume its supply chain to guarantee manufacturing and exports. 

The province's economic recovery has accelerated pace since the second half of 2020, achieving a gain of 0.7 percent in the first three quarters, after a contraction of 6.7 percent in the first quarter and a decline of 2.5 percent in the first half.

With a better outlook, Guangdong expects its GDP growth rate for 2021 to reach more than 6 percent. 

Guangdong's foreign trade totaled 7.08 trillion yuan last year, ranking first in the country and accounting for 22 percent of China's total trade. Exports increased 0.2 percent, the fourth consecutive year of growth, local customs data showed.