Hubei, Hainan aim for GDP growth of 10%-plus, highest among all provinces
China's economy expected to achieve pre-COVID-19 performance in 2021
Published: Jan 31, 2021 07:58 PM

A view of Wuhan, central China's Hubei Province (Xinhua/Xiong Qi)

All 27 provincial-level regions of China that have set GDP growth targets for 2021 chose a figure of at least at 6 percent, which means that the nation's economy is likely to return to pre-coronavirus levels this year. 

Some economists are even more upbeat, saying that certain provinces' growth will be much higher than their targets and the national economy may grow 8.5 percent this year. 

Of the 27 local governments that have released 2021 growth targets, Central China's Hubei Province's target is more than 10 percent, one of the two highest. The province's economy contracted 5 percent in 2020 amid the pandemic.

"Hubei's GDP goal is very 'conservative', considering last year's low base due to the epidemic," Wu Chaoming, chief economist at Chasing Securities, told the Global Times on Sunday, predicting that the region's GDP could expand about 12 percent under normal circumstances this year.

In 2019, the year before the coronavirus broke out, Hubei's GDP grew 7.5 percent, while China's GDP expanded 6.1 percent. 

South China's Hainan Province also set an ambitious GDP goal of more than 10 percent. The region's economic output grew 3.5 percent in 2020. 

According to Wu, Hainan's ambitious GDP growth target may have been inspired by the government's favorable policies for the region, such as construction of the Hainan free trade port. 

Some other provinces, like Southwest China's Yunnan Province and Southwest China's Tibet Autonomous Region, also set relatively high targets of 8-9 percent or more.

Wu expressed optimism about China's GDP growth this year, citing particularly the manufacturing rebound. 

"The rebound of high-tech manufacturing will still be robust this year with the support of monetary, fiscal and special policies that support this industry. Besides, China will remain a strong exporting machine as the coronavirus has hurt the production capacity of many overseas countries," he said. He predicted China's GDP will grow about 8.5 percent this year. 

Other experts were more cautious, citing uncertainties such as the course of the pandemic. 

"If the coronavirus can be subdued on a global scale, which will lead to a strong rise in overseas demand, China's export growth will still be robust this year. But it's hard to say how the pandemic will progress, even with vaccines ready," said Lin Jiang, a professor of economics at Lingnan University College of Sun Yat-sen University, adding that there are also uncertainties in China-US relations, which could affect exports.

North China's Hebei, where a wave of new coronavirus cases recently emerged, has not revealed its GDP growth target this year.

Lin also said that the central government is likely to make a conservative estimate and set the full-year GDP target at around 6 percent, taking those uncertainties into consideration.