Recently, a number of Western media outlets have produced a barrage of critical articles aimed at China’s economy, punctuated by ominous headlines. However, many experts contend that these grim forecasts for the Chinese economy are more about political propaganda than reality.
The argument is that such narratives divert attention from local issues in Western countries and deter nations from aligning with China, due to concerns that the Chinese economy might soon surpass others. In contrast to the doomsaying, many believe that the Chinese economy remains on a promising path, showing strong innovation and green development, even amidst global economic challenges.
Prominent outlets, such as the New York Times and Bloomberg, have recently run headlines implying imminent collapse or stagnation of the Chinese economy. They have often downplayed China’s achievements and have sometimes focused disproportionately on specific economic indicators to push a negative outlook.
Such perspectives, according to Wang Yiwei, director of the Institute of International Affairs at Renmin University, result from a misconception that Chinese success disrupts the ‘modern-is-Western’ myth. He suggests that by portraying the Chinese economy negatively, US media and politicians hope to divert local attention from their domestic problems, especially with the 2024 US presidential election on the horizon.
Furthermore, Wang argues that there’s a tendency among some Western media and politicians to use outdated Western economic theories to assess China’s modern digital transition, leading to misconceptions about the country’s economic trajectory.
Actual Economic Performance
Contrary to the gloom painted by some Western outlets, China’s GDP growth in the first half of 2023 was 5.5%, significantly faster than the previous year and superior to many major economies, including the US. This growth was noted by Cao Heping, an economist at Peking University.
China’s focus on innovation-driven strategies, digital economy, and green development have propelled this growth. For instance, exports of lithium batteries, solar cells, and electric passenger vehicles rose by 61.6% year-on-year in 2023’s first half.
IMF projections align with these observations, predicting a 5.2% growth for China in 2023, compared to a modest 1.8% for the US.
US vs. China Economic Prospects
While China’s growth remains steady, the US is grappling with rising debt and potential economic pitfalls. Beijing-based economist Tian Yun mentions that the US’s high-interest rate is a deterrent to its economic growth. Contrarily, China’s central government has been proactive in implementing market-responsive policies.
Despite facing challenges due to the global economic climate and disturbances in the US and EU, China remains resilient. Tu Xinquan, dean of the China Institute for WTO Studies, highlighted China’s swift policy responses to address these challenges, particularly by supporting the private sector.
Reports suggest a recent economic uptick in China’s stock and property markets, indicating potential for improved performance in the upcoming quarters.
Jane Yang, Managing Partner of Ernst & Young (EY) Beijing Office, shared a similar optimism about China’s economy. She pointed out China’s economic resilience, growth amidst fluctuations, and its sustained path of medium-to-high-speed economic growth.
Multinationals Bank on China
Major multinational corporations, such as HSBC, IKEA, and Lego, seem to have confidence in China’s economic trajectory, as they continue to expand their operations there. HSBC, for instance, has recently been granted a unique license, enhancing its capabilities in China’s vast market.
In conclusion, while some Western media narratives paint a bleak picture of China’s economic future, on-ground realities and expert opinions indicate a different, more optimistic story. The resilience and potential of China’s economy appear to remain robust, irrespective of external opinions.