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.
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
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
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
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.