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Chinese Economy

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Chinese Economy

With a population of over 1.4 billion people and a GDP of $27.3 trillion in 2020, the exponential growth of the Chinese economy in recent decades has made it the second-largest economy in the world.1

We provide an overview of the Chinese economy in this article. We also review the characteristics of the Chinese economy and its growth rate. We conclude the article with a forecast for the Chinese economy.

Chinese Economy Overview

After introducing economic reforms in 1978 that included the transition to a socialist market economy, the Chinese economy has grown exponentially. Its gross domestic product (GDP) is growing at an average annual rate of more than 10%, and it is currently the second-largest economy in the world.2

A socialist market economy is an economy in which pure capitalism operates in parallel with state-owned enterprises.

With manufacturing, labour, and agriculture contributing the most to the country’s GDP, economists predicted the Chinese economy to overtake the US economy as the largest economy in the world.

The World Bank currently designates China as an upper-middle-income country. Rapid economic growth based on the production of raw materials, low-paid labour, and exports has enabled the country to lift more than 800 million people out of poverty.1 It has also invested in health care, education, and other services, resulting in significant improvements in these services.

However, after three decades of exponential economic growth, China’s economic growth is now slowing, recording a decline in GDP growth from 10.61% in 2010 to 2.2% in 2020, largely due to the impact of the Covid-19 lockdown, before reaching 8.1% growth in 2021.3

The slowdown in economic growth is due to the economic imbalances, environmental problems, and social imbalances resulting from China’s economic growth model, which require transformation.

Characteristics of Chinese Economy

Manufacturing, exports, and cheap labour originally drove the growth of China’s economy, transforming the country from an agricultural economy to an industrial one. But over the years, low return on investment, an ageing workforce, and declining productivity created an imbalance in growth rate, forcing a search for new growth engines. As a result, some challenges to the Chinese economy arose, of which these three stand out:

  • Creating an economy that relies more on the provision of services and consumption than on investment and industry

  • Giving a greater role to markets and the private sector, thereby reducing the weight of government agencies and regulators

  • Reducing the emission of greenhouse gases into the environment

In addressing these challenges, World Bank suggested structural reforms to support the transition to the growth model of the Chinese economy.4

These proposals are:

  1. Addressing mishaps in access to credits for firms. It is believed that this could provide support to the Chinese economy’s shift towards a private sector-led growth

  2. Making fiscal reforms that aim to create a more progressive tax system and further boost allocations towards health and education spending

  3. The introduction of carbon pricing and power reforms to help the Chinese economy transition into a low carbon economy

  4. Providing support to the services sector by opening up the industry, and removing market competition barriers.

These proposals have shifted the country’s focus to sustainable, advanced manufacturing to transition the economy to a low-carbon economy and rely on services and domestic consumption to sustain economic growth.

Chinese Economy Growth Rate

With a population of more than 1.4 billion people and a GDP of $27.3 trillion in 2020, the Chinese economy has a freedom score of 58.4, a reduction of 1.1. The Chinese economy ranks 107th freest market in the world in 2021 and 20th out of 40 countries in the Asia-Pacific region.5

A free market is one in which decision-making power rests with buyers and sellers, without much restriction from government action.

When analysing China’s economic growth, the country’s GDP is an important factor. GDP indicates the total market value of goods and services produced in a country in a given year. The Chinese economy has the second-highest GDP in the world, surpassed only by the United States.

Manufacturing, industry, and construction are referred to as the secondary sector and are also the most important sector of the economy due to their significant contribution to the country’s GDP. The other sectors of the country are the primary and tertiary sectors.

Below is an insight into the contributions of each sector to the GDP of the economy.

Primary sector

The primary sector includes the contributions of agriculture, forestry, livestock, and fisheries. The primary sector contributed about 9% to China’s GDP in 20106.

The Chinese economy produces agricultural products such as wheat, rice, cotton, apples, and corn. China will also lead the world in the production of rice, wheat, and peanuts from 2020.

The contribution of the primary sector to the Chinese economy decreased from 9% in 2010 to 7.5% in 2020.7

Including the contributions of manufacturing, construction, and industry, secondary sector’s contribution to China’s GDP fell from about 47% in 2010 to 38% in 2020. This change resulted from the shift in China’s economy toward a domestic consumption economy, a low return on investment, and declining productivity.7

Electronics, steel, toys, chemicals, cement, toys, and automobiles are goods produced in the secondary sector of the Chinese economy.

Tertiary sector

Including the contributions of services, trade, transportation, real estate, hotels, and hospitality, this sector contributed about 44% of China’s GDP in 2010. As of 2020, the contribution of China’s service sector to GDP will increase to about 54%, while consumption of goods will contribute about 39% to the economy’s GDP.7

The Chinese mostly consume jewellery, fashion, automobiles, furniture, and household appliances.

The recent shift toward a healthy service sector has helped the Chinese economy improve domestic consumption and increase per capita income.

As of 2020, the Chinese GDP per capita rate is 10,511.34 US dollars.

The export of goods is another major contributor to the growth of the Chinese economy. In 2020, the Chinese economy recorded a record $2.6 trillion in exported goods, taking in more than a trillion more than the second-ranked the United States, despite constraints due to the Covid-19 pandemic.8 This represents 17.65% of China’s GDP, so the economy is considered relatively open.8

Essential goods the Chinese exported in 2020 include fashion accessories, integrated circuits, cell phones, textiles, apparel, and automatic data processing components and machinery.

Figure 1 below shows the annual GDP growth rate of the Chinese economy from 2011 to 2021.5

Chinese Economy Annual GDP growth from 2011 2021 of the Chinese economy StudySmarter OriginalsFigure 1. Annual GDP growth from 2011 - 2021 of the Chinese economy, StudySmarter Originals.Source: Statista, www.statista.com

The decline in the GDP of the Chinese economy in 2020 was mainly due to trade restrictions and lockdowns resulting from the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, with the industrial and hospitality sectors being the most affected. The Chinese economy saw a significant improvement in its GDP in 2021 after easing the Covid-19 trade restrictions.

The industrial sector contributed the most to the Chinese economy, with a contribution of nearly 32.6 % to its GDP in 2021. The Chinese economy table below shows each industry's contributions to China’s GDP in 2021.

Characteristic industry

GDP Contribution (%)

Industry

32.6

Wholesale and retail

9.7

Financial intermediation

8.0

Agriculture, wildlife, forestry, fishery, animal husbandry

7.6

Construction

7.0

Real estate

6.8

Storage and transport

4.1

IT services

3.8

Leasing and business services

3.1

Hospitality services

1.6

Other

15.8

Table 1: contributions to the Chinese GDP in 2021 by industry,

Source: Statista13

Chinese Economy Forecast

A World Bank report expects the Chinese economic growth to slow to 5.1% in 2022, down from 8.1% in 2021, due to Omicron-variant restrictions, which could affect economic activity and a sharp downturn in China’s real estate sector.10

In summary, thanks to radical reforms initiated more than three decades ago, the Chinese economy is the second largest globally, with GDP growing at an average annual rate of more than 10%. However, despite the exponential growth that the Chinese economy has experienced due to its economic model, economic growth is slowing due to economic imbalances, environmental issues, and social imbalances.

China is restructuring its economic model to sustain its economic growth. The country is shifting its economic focus to sustainable, advanced manufacturing to facilitate the transition to a low-carbon economy and relying on services and domestic consumption to sustain its economic growth.

Some economists believe a collapse of the world’s second-largest economy would have a spillover effect on the whole world’s economy.

Chinese Economy - Key Takeaways

  • The Chinese economy is the second-largest economy in the world.
  • The Chinese operate a socialist market economy.
  • Manufacturing, labour and agriculture are the largest contributors to China’s GDP.
  • The Chinese economy has three sectors: the primary, secondary, and tertiary sectors.
  • A free market is a market where decision-making power rests with buyers and sellers, without many restrictions from government policy.
  • A socialist market economy is an economy in which pure capitalism operates parallel with state-owned enterprises.
  • China is shifting its economic focus to sustainable, advanced manufacturing to transition its economy to a low-carbon economy and rely on services and domestic consumption to sustain its economic growth.

References:

  1. China economic overview - Worldbank, https://www.worldbank.org/en/country/china/overview#1

  2. China’s Economy, Asia Link Business, https://asialinkbusiness.com.au/china/getting-started-in-china/chinas-economy?doNothing=1

  3. C. Textor, Growth rate of real gross domestic product (GDP) in China from 2011 to 2021 with forecasts until 2026, Statista, 2022

  4. China economic overview - Worldbank, https://www.worldbank.org/en/country/china/overview#1

  5. The Heritage Foundation, 2022 Index of Economic Freedom, China, https://www.heritage.org/index/country/china

  6. China Economic Outlook, Focus Economics, 2022, https://www.focus-economics.com/countries/china

  7. Sean Ross, The Three Industries driving China’s Economy, 2022

  8. Yihan Ma, Export trade in China - Statistics & Facts, Statista, 2021.

  9. C. Textor, GDP composition in China 2021, by industry, 2022, Statista

  10. China Economic Update – December 2021, Worldbank, https://www.worldbank.org/en/country/china/publication/china-economic-update-december-2021

  11. He Laura, China’s economic growth will slow sharply in 2022, World Bank says, CNN, 2021

  12. Moiseeva, E.N., Characteristics of Chinese economy in 2000–2016: economic growth sustainability, RUDN Journal of World History, 2018, Vol. 10, No 4, p. 393–402.

13. Acclime China, Two of the most characteristic features of China’s economy, 2007, https://china.acclime.com/news-insights/two-characteristic-features-china-economy/

Frequently Asked Questions about Chinese Economy

The Chinese operate a socialist market economy.

A significant driver of the Chinese economy is cheap labour. High population growth resulted in a low differential per capita income. 

Some economists believe a collapse of the world’s second-largest economy would have spill over effects on the whole world’s economy.

The US economy is currently the largest economy in the world, bettering the Chinese economy with a GDP of over twenty trillion dollars compared to the Chinese 14 trillion dollars. 

As of 2020, the Chinese GDP per capita rate is 10,511.34 US dollars. 

Final Chinese Economy Quiz

Question

What is a socialist market economy?

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Answer

A socialist market economy is an economy in which pure capitalism operates in parallel with state-owned enterprises.

Show question

Question

The Chinese practise a socialist market economy. True or false?

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Answer

True

Show question

Question

China is the second-largest economy in the world. True or false?

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Answer

True

Show question

Question

The slow growth rate of the Chinese economy are due to _______. 

Show answer

Answer

Economic imbalances, environmental issues, and social imbalances arising from the Chinese economic growth model.

Show question

Question

How is China aiming to improve its economic growth rate?

Show answer

Answer

China is restructuring its economic model to sustain its economic growth. The country is shifting its economic focus to sustainable, advanced manufacturing to facilitate the transition to a low-carbon economy and relying on services and domestic consumption to sustain its economic growth.

Show question

Question

The growth of the Chinese economy was originally driven by  _______.

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Answer

The Chinese economic growth was originally driven by investments in manufacturing, exporting, and cheap labour. 

Show question

Question

What does GDP stand for?

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Answer

GDP stands for Gross Domestic Product.

Show question

Question

What economic insight does a nation’s GDP provide?

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Answer

The GDP provides the total market value of goods and services produced within a country in a particular year.

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Question

The Chinese economy’s GDP is shared among three sectors. Name them.


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Answer

The three sectors are the primary, secondary and tertiary sectors.

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Question

What percentage does the tertiary sector contribute to the Chinese economy?

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Answer

The tertiary sector contributes around 44% of the Chinese GDP.

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Question

The secondary sector of the Chinese economy includes  _______.

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Answer

The Chinese secondary sector includes manufacturing, industry, and construction. 

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Question

The 9% contribution of GDP by the primary sector is majorly from _______.

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Answer

Fishing, animal rearing, farming, and forestry. 

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Question

The most significant contribution to the GDP is from the _______.

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Answer

The secondary sector 

Show question

Question

The Chinese economic growth is expected to slow down to 5.1% in 2022. True or false?

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Answer

True

Show question

Question

The slowdown in the Chinese economic growth in 2022 is expected to be due to _______.

Show answer

Answer

The slowdown in China’s economic growth is expected to be due to the effect of restrictions due to the Omicron variant which could affect economic activities and a severe downturn in the Chinese property sector. 

Show question

Question

Compared to 2021, the Chinese economy in 2022 is expected to record a significant increase. True or false?

Show answer

Answer

False

Show question

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