China’s economy remains strong, promising, with greater potential, despite Western smears
Envoys, experts optimistic on growth, defying Western slander
Published: Mar 16, 2024 02:27 PM
Photo: CFP

Photo: CFP

China's economy remains strong and promising, thanks to government efforts and its great market potential, among other key factors, despite some Western media disparaging China's economic outlook, government officials, experts and envoys said at the Ambassador Round Table Dialogue on "China's Economic Outlook" which convened in Beijing on Friday.

As a special opportunity to understand China's economic direction, high-level government officials and senior economic experts seized the chance to address queries and ease doubts surrounding the nation's economic progress. Envoys also expressed optimistic views on China's economy, defying the West's pessimistic rhetoric, while expecting to further tap into the potential of the booming Chinese market.

The timing of this gathering, which follows China's annual two sessions where the Government Work Report laid out key economic objectives, policies, and strategies, further emphasized the significance of this dialogue in illustrating the course of China's economic agenda.

Recently, there have been some voices in the international community that have expressed pessimism over China's economy, whose status and development prospects were among the subjects discussed at the roundtable. This meeting served as a window for a nuanced comprehension of China's economic development.

Speaking at the roundtable on Friday, Wang Gang, Vice Minister of the Publicity Department of the Communist Party of China Central Committee, said that to understand the Chinese economy, it's essential to objectively, comprehensively, and dialectically understand China, seeking answers from the reality of Chinese development.

With 46 years of rapid development since the launch of reform and opening-up, China's economy has become deeply integrated with the global economy. The international community's attention has been increasingly turning toward China, focusing on China's economy. We respond to these voices from the world with confidence and an open mind, said Wang.

Amid a flurry of pessimistic rhetoric about China's economic prospects, alleging that its rise has peaked or its development has faltered, it may seem as though the discourse surrounding China's economy is overwhelmingly negative.

Take just a few for example. A report published by the Wall Street Journal on December 15, 2023, was headlined "China's Economy Shows Signs of Losing Further Momentum," while CNN ran an article entitled "China's economy had a miserable year. 2024 might be even worse" in December last year. 

As an interesting comparison, the New York Times published an article in August 2023 criticizing the Chinese economy, stating that a decline in China's exports can be seen as a major indicator of a "stalling economy," which poses alarming risks for economies around the planet. 

However, on March 12 - only several months later - the very newspaper published another article that once again criticized China, this time claiming an increase in China's exports has put jobs around the world in jeopardy. 

Real picture 

In responding to these claims, Wang said that taking an objective and dialectical view of Chinese economic data and truly understanding the reality of China's development will lead to different judgments.

In 2023, China's economic growth stood at 5.2 percent compared with just 2.5 percent in the US, Japan's 1.9 percent and France's 0.9 percent. Such growth demonstrates that China's economy continues to grow in volume and its quality is constantly improving, Wang said.

"The impetus behind China's reform remains strong, with its door opening wider and wider. An open China presents opportunities for the world," Wang said, noting the country is willing to share the opportunities with more countries and regions, achieving mutual benefit and win-win cooperation.

Chinese economists also made rational responses to the slander from the West targeting China's economy at Friday's event.

"Some people are now saying that China's economic growth has peaked and that China is somewhat like Japan in the 1990s. If this is the case, it means China's economic development will enter a thirty-year stagnation period, and China will no longer have the opportunity to surpass the US in economic size - these views are wrong," Yao Yang, Professor of Economics at the National School of Development and Director of China Center for Economic Research, Peking University, said on Friday.

"I believe China's potential economic growth rate is still around 5.5 percent if not higher, as China's current savings rate is still very high, equivalent to 45 percent of China's GDP, meaning China's savings volume is equivalent to 45 percent of China's GDP," Yao said.

Yao also noted the boom in new industries, which is injecting new impetus into China's economy as it pursues high-quality development. He gave the example of artificial intelligence applications, a field in which "China has already taken the lead among many countries, surpassing the US in some areas," Yao said.

China's economy has definitely not peaked as its per capita income is only equivalent to 25 percent of the per capita income in the US, whereas in the 1990s, Japan's per capita income was already equivalent to 80 percent of that in the US, Li Daokui, Director of the Academic Center for Chinese Economic Practice and Thinking, Tsinghua University, also said at the meeting.

Additionally, China's population is 11 times larger than Japan's in the 1990s, making China's economy the world's largest unified market. "Within such a massive market, there is significant domestic demand that needs to be further explored and unleashed," Li said.

Yangshan Port in Shanghai File photo: VCG

Yangshan Port in Shanghai File photo: VCG

Sound fundamental, bright prospect 

The good momentum of China's economic development is based on the solid foundation from last year, despite the complex international situation including the Red Sea crisis and rising protectionism, as the world was still struggling to recover from the pandemic.

Despite the odds, last year, China's macroeconomic indicators performed well, with rapid growth in economic aggregate, as multiple sets of government data shows. GDP exceeded 126 trillion yuan, an increase of 5.2 percent year-on-year, while production supply steadily rebounded, with a favorable situation in grain production, bringing total grain output to a new high. 

Moreover, foreign trade were generally stable, with exports of the "new three" products - new-energy vehicles, lithium-ion batteries and solar batteries - exceeding the trillion-yuan mark for the first time, and an annual growth rate of 29.9 percent.

Despite some challenges, the favorable conditions for China's economic development in 2024 are expected to surpass the unfavorable factors. Building upon the solid foundation laid last year, the momentum of economic recovery is projected to gain further strength and stability, government officials and experts said.

Meanwhile, a new round of technological revolution and industrial restructuring is reshaping the world economic landscape, which is advantageous for China to seize opportunities and gain new development advantages, said Pan Jiang, head of the Department of International Cooperation of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), the top economic planner, at the meeting.

More potential is to be unleashed as the Chinese government has vowed to further boost the momentum of economic development this year, with promoting development of new quality productive forces being a highlight.

For example, during the two sessions, the central government pledged to allocate 370.8 billion yuan ($51.51 billion) for science and technology in 2024, as part of the move to promote development of new quality productive forces.

A slew of other supportive policies is also being implemented, as noted during the two sessions.

Among these are improving the nation's capacity for scientific and technological innovation, accelerating the transformation and upgrading of traditional industries, and fostering emerging and future industries, according to a report submitted by the NDRC, to the national legislature for deliberation in March.