China's economic growth poses no threat - WB

Updated: 2007-01-22 19:24

BEIJING -- China's fast economic growth is not a threat to the world, said Bert Hofman, the World Bank's (WB) chief economist for China.

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Many people worry about the impact on the environment of China's fast development, as China is now the world's leading energy consumer and the second largest producer of greenhouse gas after the United States, Bert Hofman said.

China is likely to become the largest producer of greenhouse gas by 2010, according to the World Energy Outlook issued by International Energy Agency (IEA) recently.

However, Hofman said, these concerns needed to be qualified. First of all, the current situation was unlikely to continue and, secondly, China's pollution was not caused only by the country itself. Hofman did not elaborate on these remarks.

China's 11th five-year development plan (2006-2010) includes a 20 percent reduction in energy consumption per unit of GDP target for the five-year period, and a more general objective of transforming the country into a resource-saving and environment-friendly society.

China's GDP is expected to top 20 trillion yuan (2.5 trillion US dollars) in 2007, a rise of 10.5 percent year-on-year, according to projections by the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC).

China is influencing other countries through trade, investment and assistance, but also through knowledge and ideas, Hofman said, adding that people often ignore China's progress in education and research.

Heavy investment in higher education means that 20 percent of Chinese young people of university age now attend schools of higher learning, compared with only 6 percent a decade ago, Hofman said.

According to recently published figures, China approved more than 30,000 patents in 2004, compared with less than 5,000 prior to 1994. More than half of the patentees are Chinese citizens and an increasing number of Chinese have obtained patent rights in other countries, Hofman said.

Hofman said China was likely to become an important source of innovation and new products and it could expand its influence in this field by improving the protection of intellectual property rights and optimizing innovation systems.

China, the world's third largest trader after the United States and Germany, registered 1.76 trillion US dollars in foreign trade last year, up 24 percent year-on-year, and an aggregate trade surplus of 177 billion US dollars, up 74 percent.

China's increasing trade benefits other countries, Hofman said, adding that Chinese manufacturing is often highly efficient.

China has become the most important export destination for Asian countries.

China has been the largest recipient of foreign investment among all developing nations for 15 years, with foreign direct investment (FDI) used in China topping 63 billion US dollars last year, up 4 percent on the previous year - but only if the financial sector is excluded from the calculation, according to the Ministry of Commerce.

Although the inflow of foreign funds into Asia was interrupted briefly after the 1997 Asian financial crisis, foreign investment has picked up again, with FDI reaching 15 billion US dollars in Southeast Asia in 2005, Hofman said.

Foreign investment in Malaysia, the Philippines and Thailand continued to surge in the first half of 2006, Hofman said without giving specific figures.

A recipient of massive foreign investment, China saw its own overseas investments, excluding the financial sector, surge by 32 percent last year to reach 16.1 billion US dollars, according to the Ministry of Commerce.

As a result, China's overseas investment ranking jumped from 17th in 2005 to 13th last year, according to the Commerce Ministry.

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