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Can China Achieve Green Growth?


Yongsheng Zhang

Can China Achieve Green Growth?


In 1978, after over 100 years of decline, China embarked on a journey to restore its status as the world’s largest economy. From the early 1500s until the early 1800s, China’s economy was the world’s largest. By 1820, it accounted for one-third of the world’s gross domestic product (GDP). The next two centuries, however, were tumultuous for China. The country experienced catastrophic decline between 1820 and 1950 and then, starting in 1978, it experienced meteoric rise (Maddison 2001). After reform and opening up in 1978, China started to catch-up with the western world with an average of 10 per cent annual growth rate over the past three decades. It now takes the second place in the world, with its per capita GDP increasing from US$154 in 1978 to US$6,060 in 2012. It is widely expected that around 2020, China’s economy will overtake that of the United States and regain its first place in the globe if the economic boom continues, or even if it slows down a little. As such, China is likely to become a high-income society with per capita earning reaching the average level of the OECD by 2030 (WB/DRC 2013: 3).

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