Developing status helps explain China’s opportunities despite attacks by US
Published: May 25, 2023 11:26 PM
Illustration: Chen Xia/Global Times

Illustration: Chen Xia/Global Times

After US legislators voted with sinister intention to challenge China's status as a developing nation, Western public opinion has seen debate on how to view China's rise. The latest example is an article in Foreign Policy claiming China is a developed, developing hybrid.

Firstly, it must be pointed out that US legislators have no right to play referee on revoking other sovereign nations' developing country status. China now is clearly listed as a developing country across all international organizations including the UN. Trying to strip China of its developing nation status, Washington's ultimate goal is to prevent China from enjoying preferential treatment available to developing countries and increase China's development cost, as a part of its efforts to squeeze its perceived rival. 

Secondly, amid confusion and controversy among Westerners, understanding the characteristics of China's developing economy from the perspective of economic development may help them see the real China, as well as business opportunities across global supply chains.

Following decades of development, China has become the second largest economy in the world, but it still exhibits traits of a developing economy, which reflects the complexity of China.

The Foreign Policy report claims that while only two percent of Portugal's population were living below the level of $6.85 a day in 2019, the corresponding figure for China was more than 10 times higher, at 25 percent. This, to some extent, showed a typical Western perspective by comparing the Chinese economy with Western ones, and underlining "weak points" in the Chinese economy. Admittedly, China's per-capita economic indicators are relatively low when comparing with developed countries. This is because China has a population of about 1.4 billion, and some of them have just emerged from poverty in the recent past. 

Over the past four decades, China has lifted nearly 800 million people out of poverty, which is roughly twice the size of the US population. This is a huge achievement. A simple desire for improving quality of life after eradicating poverty formed an overwhelming momentum of economic growth at a macroeconomic level. The explosive growth of China's emerging middle class has brought sweeping economic change. In this process, opportunities created in the Chinese economy may help Westerners better understand China as a developing economy. With sustainable economic development, China deserves its title as a "developing country."

Thirdly, China's developing economy means development opportunities, not only for Chinese domestic companies but also foreign firms. At a time when the world economy faces headwinds and uncertainty, some anti-China forces in the US, on the one hand, have sought to challenge China's developing economy status in an attempt to contain China's rise, and on the other hand, keep undermining the Chinese economy by claiming that China's rate of growth is slowing. The purpose of these two behaviors is consistent. They are all part of a US plot to lure partners to join in its strategic containment of China's development. In the face of such tactics, people in the West should avoid falling into the trap of US narrative when it comes to the Chinese economy.

After many expressed opposition to Washington's economic "decoupling" from China, it is now propagandizing new narratives such as "de-risking." However, many Western companies have voted with their feet. The chief executive of Siemens has recently vowed to expand its market share in China, arguing the market is crucial for innovation and growth at the industrial conglomerate, the Financial Times reported. In recent weeks, some executives from multinational corporations have expressed their confidence in the Chinese market. China will continue to welcome foreign companies to develop in China and achieve win-win results based on benefit. Hopefully more Westerners can see the development opportunities in the Chinese developing economy.

The author is a reporter with the Global Times.