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Nation takes global lead in economic development

By Gerald Mbanda | China Daily Global | Updated: 2021-02-09 09:12
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High-rise buildings are seen in Shanghai. [Photo/Sipa]

The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the economic growth of almost all countries, pushing them into recession. However, China is the only country that registered positive economic growth last year at 2.3 percent.

China achieved one of its Two Centenary Goals by becoming a moderately prosperous society last year. Further projections indicate that its economy will overtake that of the United States as the world's largest five years earlier than previously anticipated.

At the beginning of last year, China imposed strict measures to contain the spread of COVID-19 that included total lockdown in major cities, restriction of movement in the whole country, social distancing, and mandatory 14-day quarantine for people returning to China from other countries.

These measures led to a contraction of the economy by 6.8 percent in the first quarter of last year. However, by mid-February last year, the spread of COVID-19 was reduced due to the tough measures, and economic activities resumed. It is thus argued that one of the reasons the Chinese economy picked up is a result of benefiting from having controlled COVID-19 early enough.

It should also be noted that by the end of last year, China eliminated absolute poverty, with more than 800 million people lifted out of poverty in a period of four decades.

In 1945, China's GDP per capita was among the lowest in the world. Yet in a span of one generation, China became the world's second-largest economy. The achievement became a great inspiration to developing countries to have the confidence that poverty can be eliminated in one generation with committed, visionary leadership, and with enabling economic policies and a supportive, hard-working, patriotic population.

China is the first country to achieve the United Nations Millennium Development Goal of poverty reduction in a record 10 years. For the African continent in particular, China's win over absolute poverty provides a big lesson of hope in defeating poverty, which is one of the key aspirations of the African Union's Agenda 2063 and the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals.

At the policymaking level, advanced industrial manufacturing has been given attention as one of the pillars to propel economic growth. New development concepts of innovation, coordination and green and open shared development have been adopted.

Green development embraces the harmony between nature and humanity, whereas a project like the Belt and Road Initiative is a good example of China's open development concept, which prioritizes interaction between China and the international community, and shared development for social equality and justice. This presents a unique philosophy of global economic development outlook, putting humanity at the center of development.

In November, China announced an extension of debt relief worth $2.1 billion to developing countries under the G20 framework. This would help those countries make ends meet with the economic challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, The Export-Import Bank, together with the China International Development Cooperation Agency, suspended debt service worth $1.35 billion for 23 countries.

China's economic model and record of social inclusion and development are admirable, and have delivered results for the development of the country.

According to the latest foreign trade data released by China's General Administration of Customs, the country's foreign trade grew 1.9 percent year-on-year to 32.16 trillion yuan ($4.98 trillion) last year. Its exports increased 4 percent year-on-year, and its trade surplus surged 27.4 percent to 3.7 trillion yuan.

On many other fronts like innovation, artificial intelligence and 5G technology, China has made remarkable progress on a global scale. China's rise and taking the lead in influencing global economic development is not only impressive but unstoppable.

The author is founder of Africa-China Review, a publication of the Africa-China Think Tank, and a researcher and publisher on China-Africa cooperation.

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