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China's Economic Development to Bring the World Tremendous Opportunities
2003/03/15

  
       Question:China's economic growth in 2002 was beyond many people's expectations. Facing the extraordinarily fast development of the Chinese economy, some people abroad claim that China's rapid progress will threaten its neighboring and other countries. However, many people with breadth of vision believe that China's economic development will bring the world and other countries new opportunities. What's your opinion?

       Answer:Before answering your question, I’d like to make a brief depiction of China's national conditions. In spite of its rapid economic growth over the past 20-odd years, China's basic national conditions have remained unchanged, and the country is still and will continue to stay for a quite long time in the initial stage of socialism. Even when a few regions lead other localities in realizing industrialization, urbanization and modernization, most areas in China still call for long-term efforts to achieve this.

       Compared with China's neighbor Japan, the latter's per-capita GDP is seven-fold that of China. In 2000, the agricultural sector took up 15.9 percent of China's GDP, which is equivalent to the level of Japan in 1959. In that same year, the Engel's coefficient of China's urban residents was 39.2 percent, but Japan registered the rate of 38.8 percent as early as in 1965. The per-capita electricity consumption of China today is still lower than that of Japan in 1960.

       Q:Obviously, China is still a developing country. Why do some people abroad worry about its progress? Is this related to China's growing role in the global distribution of work?

       A:In addition to its economic strength, the position taken by a country in the global distribution of work also depends on its comparative advantages and resources endowment. We divide strategic resources closely related to economy and trade into five categories—natural resources, human resources, capital resources, knowledge and technological resources, and international resources. International comparison indicates that China has certain advantages in the fields of natural, human and capital resources, and is relatively weak in the fields of knowledge and technological resources and international resources.

       In fact, China and developed and emerging industrialized countries, staying in different stages of economic development, have fairly great disparities in resources endowment. Varied development levels and resources endowment, to a great extent, influence the competitive advantages of different countries in various fields. While China enjoys competitive advantages in labor-intensive industries and low-technology products, developed and emerging industrialized countries possess competitive advantages in knowledge- and technology-intensive industries and high-tech products. Meanwhile, a certain extent of competition exists between the two in products with medium-level technologies. Undoubtedly, the international competitiveness of developed and emerging industrialized countries greatly exceeds that of China. However, the mutual compensation and cooperation between the two in economic, industrial, trade and other fields outstrips competition.

       Q:In a report issued at the end of last year, Stephen Roach, chief economist of Morgan Stanley, noted that when American consumers were feeling continuous pressures, the low-cost goods from China helped enlarge the domestic purchasing power of the United States. In this regard, China might have played a key role in the soft landing of the US commercial cycle. Simultaneously, American companies have benefited from their purchase in China. The imported parts from China have lowered their cost, thereby increasing their profits. For American business circles and investors, this has enhanced the overall competitiveness of the United States.

       Do you regard the rapid economic development and continuous increase in the comprehensive national strength of China as an opportunity or a threat to the world and its neighboring countries?

       A:In my view, the rise of China in the 21st century is a definite trend of historical development. China's rapid development will bring tremendous opportunities to the world and its neighboring countries. Let us see some analyses of experts from the World Bank.

       The book China in 2020 published by the World Bank points out that China's economic boom will bring opportunities to world development, just as the economic bounce of the United States in the 19th century and that of Japan following World War II in the 20th century, which dynamically drove up the global economic and trade growth. The book encourages investors to make investment in China and share China's growing economic returns. It says, to developed and emerging industrialized countries, China's economic growth and economic globalization play an important role at least in the following three aspects: First, China's development produces a huge demand for capital-, technology- and knowledge-intensive products, and the growth of the country's import of these products is 2-2.5 percentage points higher than that of the country's total import volume. Second, China's economic and export growth can meet the great demand of developed and emerging industrialized countries for labor-intensive products. Third, with the progress of economic globalization, industrialized countries will transfer the production of large amounts of labor-intensive products to developing countries, particularly to China, a country with rich labor resources, a tremendous market and good development prospects.

       In my view, China's economic boom means opportunities and contributions but not threats and challenges to the world. First, it is manifested by China's contribution to global economic growth. My calculation in accordance with the data provided by the World Bank shows that between 1980-2000, the United States ranked first in the contribution to global GDP growth, with the rate reaching 20.7 percent; China came second, with the rate standing at 14 percent; and Japan ranked third, with the rate coming to 7 percent.

       Second, it is manifested by China's contribution to global trade growth. Between 1980-2000, the contribution of the United States and Japan to the newly added commodity and service trade worldwide was 14.4 percent and 6.9 percent respectively. China ranked third, registering a contribution rate of 4.7 percent. In the future, with the continuous expansion of China's aggregate economy and total trade volume, the country's contribution to global economic and trade growth will go up continuously and rank second in the world.

       Third, it is manifested by China's contribution to global poverty reduction. According to materials provided by the World Bank, between 1990-98, while the poor population of other developing countries dropped by 77.5 million, that of China declined by 147.2 million, representing a contribution rate of 190 percent. If China had not considerably reduced its poor population, the global population living in poverty would have increased instead of coming down. The international community has promised to cut the ratio of the poor population of developing countries by 50 percent by 2015. The realization of the goal greatly relies on China's effort to considerably reduce its urban and rural poor population.

       The building of an all-round well-off society in China, a country with its current population exceeding 1 billion, is the greatest event in the history of human development. At present, the population of high-income countries worldwide is less than 900 million, and these countries have taken 200-250 years to reach their present level of development. The population of upper-middle-income countries is less than 600 million, and these countries have taken 100-150 years to attain their current level. The population of the two totals 1.47 billion. By 2050, however, it will only take 100 years for China, then having a population of 1.5-1.6 billion, to enter an intermediately developed society. This is not only a miracle in the human development history, but also a historic contribution made by China to the development of humankind.


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