China: Growth engine of the last 10 years



BEIJING: A decade of steady growth has seen China emerge as a major economic power, with many landmark achievements along its path to high-quality development.

By embarking on a development path that is innovation-driven, sustainable and more open to the world, China has steadily accelerated the momentum of the global economy. Figures from the country’s National Bureau of Statistics shed light on how the world’s second-largest economy has transformed and prospered over the past 10 years.

Engine of global growth

Over the past decade, the Chinese economy has maintained rapid growth and consolidated its status as a major contributor to global growth.

In 2021, the value of China’s gross domestic product reached $17.7 trillion, or 18.5% of the global total. From 2013 to 2021, it grew at an average annual rate of 6.6%, exceeding the global level of 2.6%.

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Thanks to its rapid economic expansion, China has become a major driver of global economic growth. From 2013 to 2021, its contribution to this growth has averaged 38.6%, higher than that of the Group of Seven of industrialized countries combined.

Agriculture, the mainstay of the economy, has recorded stable growth. Since 2012, China’s production of grains, meat, peanuts and tea has ranked first in the world, while that of rapeseed has ranked second.

The country’s production of industrial products has also increased steadily. Its production of crude steel, coal, electricity, cement, fertilizers, automobiles, microcomputers and mobile phones exceeds that of other nations.

Wider opening

Amid efforts to open up more to the world, China’s foreign trade has seen a solid expansion over the past decade. In 2020, the country overtook the United States to become the world’s largest trading nation for the first time, with total foreign trade volume increasing to $5.3 trillion from $4.4 trillion in 2012. Last year, it rose again to $6.9 trillion.

China’s foreign merchandise trade rose from $3.9 trillion in 2012 to $6.1 trillion last year, accounting for 13.5 percent of the world total.

The country also remained the world’s largest trader in goods and second trader in services.

With a vast market of 1.4 billion people, solid economic growth and an improving business environment, China has consistently been a preferred destination for foreign investment over the past decade.

Since 2020, China has remained the second largest destination country for foreign direct investment (FDI). Its FDI actually used reached $173.5 billion in 2021, compared to $113.3 billion in 2012. This represents, on average, an increase of 4.8% per year.

Innovation-Driven Development

Over the past decade, China has put innovation at the top of its agenda to boost competitiveness and reinvigorate its economy.

The country rose to 12th place in the 2021 Global Innovation Index, up from 34th place in 2012, according to the World Intellectual Property Organization. It ranked first among middle-income economies.

Amid this momentum of innovation, the number of Chinese companies on the Fortune Global 500 list has increased. In 2021, 145 Chinese companies were on the list, up from 95 in 2012.

In terms of telecommunications infrastructure, China has built the largest fifth-generation (5G) network in the world, with 1.43 million 5G base stations installed nationwide by the end of 2021, which accounts for more than 60% of the world total.

Supported by technological advances, China has accelerated the construction of high-speed transportation networks. The country has the most developed high-speed rail network in the world, with high-speed railways spanning a total length of 40,000 kilometers by the end of 2021, up 330% from 2012.

The extent of highways in use has also reached 169,000 km, an 80% increase over the past decade, ranking first in the world.

Better life

China’s economic development has resulted in a steady increase in residents’ incomes, improving people’s livelihoods.

Gross national income per capita reached $11,890 last year, double the figure recorded in 2012. The expansion saw China jump from 112th to 68th place in the same period, according to a World Bank ranking.

China eliminated absolute poverty in 2020, with 12.37 million rural residents lifted out of poverty on an annual average between 2012 and 2020. This achievement enabled China to meet the poverty eradication goal of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development a decade ahead of schedule.

Thanks to rising incomes and improved education and health care, the average Chinese life expectancy reached 77.9 years in 2020, 5.2 years above the global average .

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