Op-Ed Contributors

It's still a long road out there

By Ding Yifan (China Daily)
Updated: 2010-07-10 06:50
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It's still a long road out there

China has to clear hurdles of vast underdeveloped areas, imbalanced regional growth to become industrialized

China's economic performance since the global financial crisis has been in sharp contrast to other countries. It recorded an economic growth of 9.1 percent last year, whereas the economies of the United States, European countries and Japan slowed down.

This has re-ignited the debate on whether China is still a developing country. Some experts, especially in the West, say China can no longer be considered a developing nation, because it has the largest foreign reserves in the world, is about to overtake Japan as the second largest economy and is the third biggest trading power. China is as good as a developed country, they say, and hence, should shoulder more global responsibilities.

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It is understandable that China's fast-paced growth has made some people overestimate its power. But the truth is that despite the economic and social development of the past few years, China is still a developing nation.

Let's look at some facts. China's per capita GDP is still 104th in the world. Its remarkable fast-paced growth has not brought about a fundamental change in the uneven economic development of its different regions, its industrial structure or its underdeveloped productivity. Moreover, its rapid development has created a series of thorny issues, none of which is easy to resolve in a large country with a population of 1.4 billion.

In addition to its low per capita GDP, a number of intractable economic problems that have emerged in the course of its development show it is still far from achieving its goal of becoming a medium-level developed nation by the middle of this century.

China's rural population is between 700 million and 800 million, more than half of its total population. This demography shows China is still in the period of transition to an industrialized society. In a developed society, the rural population is usually very small. For example, the US has a rural population of 2 percent and France, 4 percent.

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