GT Voice: Western hype misses China’s upgrading of economic quality
Published: Jun 13, 2022 09:56 PM
Photo: Xinhua

Photo: Xinhua

While the Chinese economy is facing difficulties and challenges due to recent COVID-19 outbreaks and a complicated international environment, it hasn't hindered its efforts to pursue high-quality development. Regrettably, some Western media outlets have been busy hyping up China's economic fall, while turning a blind eye to the profound transformation of the world's second-largest economy, which explains why they always misjudge China.

The latest example came from a Reuters article published on Monday entitled "In 'miracle' city Shenzhen, fears for China's economic future," which painted a grim picture of the economic predicament faced by the Chinese tech hub of Shenzhen in South China's Guangdong Province. The article pointed out that Shenzhen saw overall economic growth of merely 2 percent in the first quarter of this year, while the city posted at least 20 percent annual economic growth for the last four decades.

There are so many issues with that analysis. It is worth noting that Shenzhen set an economic growth target of about 6 percent for 2022. In 2021, the city's economic growth was 6.7 percent. Clearly, it is inappropriate to use the 20 percent annual growth rate as a reference to measure the current economic growth. It is simply unrealistic for a GDP the size of Shenzhen's to always maintain growth at 20 percent. 

There is no denying that Shenzhen's economic activities were severely affected by the epidemic resurgence in the first quarter, as reflected in the city's consumption and trade performance. Statistics showed that Shenzhen's retail sale of consumer goods in the first quarter declined 1.6 percent year-on-year, while imports and exports fell by 2.8 percent year-on-year. 

But the impact of the epidemic outbreak is temporary. Shenzhen largely achieved zero community cases after a week-long lockdown in March. And with a series of policy measures to boost economic activity, it is believed that an economic rebound in the second quarter is very likely and Shenzhen will achieve its annual growth target this year. 

However, apart from playing tricks with numbers, the Reuters article also underscored another serious fault in foreign doomsayers' analysis of the Chinese economy. 

The epidemic may have masked a profound transformation and upgrading of Shenzhen's economic development, which is aimed at guiding capital flow into the real economy on a large scale. While many, especially those in Western media, focuses on growth speed, Chinese authorities are stressing the quality of growth. 

Last week, the Shenzhen government released a document on developing strategic emerging industrial clusters and cultivating future industries, which involves 20 strategic emerging industries and eight future industries. The government also rolled out a layout plan for building 20 advanced manufacturing parks in the city. 

Moreover, according to Shenzhen's investment project plan for 2022, annual planned investment for major construction projects in modern industries reached 75.95 billion yuan ($11.28 billion), with total investment of 925.16 billion yuan, up 89.2 percent compared with the plan released the previous year.

If anything, these plans reflect Shenzhen's comprehensive planning and ambition to develop and lead China's high-end manufacturing in the future. The current economic pressure and the US technological containment seem to have motivated the city to forge ahead with the high-end manufacturing development.

Also, Shenzhen's push for high-quality, innovation-driven manufacturing has led to China's leading technology and manufacturing companies to gradually and comprehensively turn to the manufacturing sector, including but not limited to a large amount of research and development investment. 

It is important to note that the output may be incomparable with the huge investment for the time being, and the GDP growth may not be as fast as before, but all the current inputs have actually injected resilience and momentum for the sustainable development of the industries for the future.

This is also a microcosm and signal of China's economic development direction. China's manufacturing sector doesn't necessary pursue fast expansion at a certain stage, but high-quality growth and breakthrough in key technologies. That's the key to China's economic competitiveness for years and decades to come. As for Shenzhen, with all the efforts, it will undoubtedly become a city of miracle once again for the era of high-quality, innovation-driven development in China.