Strategic observation

Commentary: China in uphill battle to become top economic power

2018-02-13 20:52:41 (Beijing Time)         English.news.cn

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BEIJING, Feb. 13 (Xinhua) -- Chinese President Xi Jinping's latest visit to an impoverished prefecture before the Lunar New Year revealed the daunting challenges facing the world's largest developing economy.

With a per capita GDP of 29,549 yuan (about 4,659 U.S. dollars) in 2016, around half of the nation's average, Liangshan Yi Autonomous Prefecture in Sichuan Province is one of China's poorer regions.

In the past, some villagers in Zhaojue County of Liangshan had no access to roads. When going out, they had to climb down an 800-meter-high cliff and use a rattan ladder. Now a steel ladder has been built.

"To lead the people to a better life is our goal. Not a single ethnic group, family or person should be left behind in the process of finishing the building of a moderately prosperous society in all respects," Xi told local villagers.

China's economic aggregate amounted to 82 trillion yuan last year, the second highest only after the United States. But when it comes to per capita GDP, the measure for the standard of living of a population, China's position has slipped much lower to somewhere around 70th.

The per capita GDP of China in 2016 was around 14 percent of that of the United States, roughly the same as that of Brazil, according to World Bank data.

Among existing developed economies, only two countries, namely the United States and Japan, have a population of more than 100 million.

China with a population of 1.3 billion is facing an unprecedented challenge. Currently there are 590 million Chinese living in rural areas.

Until 2020, China aims to lift 10 million people out of poverty each year, which is almost twice as large as the population of Norway.

China's achievements and challenges are always magnified as it has a population of 1.3 billion.

This is the tough situation China must face as it aims to become a modern country that is prosperous, strong, democratic, culturally advanced, harmonious and beautiful by the middle of the century.

Because of the country's vast territory and large population, imbalances and inadequacies in China's economic development, such as the urban-rural gap and regional disparity, are particularly prominent. In some parts of the countryside, clean toilets are not even available.

GDP, an indicator measuring the overall economic strength, can be misleading if meticulous observation of per capita indexes and other micro perspectives are absent.

This is why Xi Jinping said at the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China that China's international status as the world's largest developing country has not changed, and that economic development remains the central task of the country.

Instead of pursuing breakneck economic growth, China is seeking transition toward high-quality development. Supply-side structural reform has been deepened to meet the people's ever-growing needs for a better life. Productivity and efficiency will be elevated through innovation. A package of policies have been released to vitalize rural life.

China is even mulling new indicators, policies, standards, statistical and performance assessment systems to prompt the transition, showing no intention of resting on its laurels as the world's second biggest economy.

As sustainable development is a universal trend, the new assessment systems, if proven viable in China, could be valuable tools for the country to provide for the world.

In traditional Chinese culture, good governance advocates friendship among people and friendly exchanges among nations. This is why China advocates a people-centered approach in domestic policies and always aims for common prosperity and interactive development in diplomacy.

Over the past six decades, China has provided aggregate aid of 400 billion yuan to 166 countries and international organizations, and trained 12 million people from developing countries.

By October 2017, 3,412 Chinese enterprises have created 209,000 jobs for 24 countries under the Belt and Road Initiative, according to the Ministry of Commerce.

President Xi's proposal of building a community with shared future for mankind is deeply-rooted in Chinese culture, which values harmony, peace and inclusive prosperity rather than control or hegemony.

The ever-growing strength and influence of China's economy are anything but menace, while Chinese culture, and the complexity and diversity of the Chinese economy need to be better understood.