Photo: Yang Hui/GT
China has spent 70 years exploring a suitable road for its development, and it has simultaneously spent those 70 years continuously contributing to global progress. Since China’s reform and opening-up began in 1978, the country has experienced rapid and sustained economic growth.
The nation has formed a set of development models with Chinese characteristics through the advantages of a low-cost labor force, high capital accumulation and investment rates, continuous education investment and human capital accumulation, thereby joining the global industrial chain and reaping dividends now. It has also made unprecedented contributions to economic development, poverty eradication, environmental governance, scientific and technological innovation and international multilateral cooperation.
China has become the main engine of the world’s economic growth. According to data from the UN, China’s GDP in 2018 totaled $13.61 trillion, accounting for 15.86 percent of the global GDP. At constant prices, China’s GDP grew by 6.6 percent year-on-year in 2018, twice the average global GDP growth which was recorded at 3.03 percent year-on-year. IMF data shows that China’s contribution to world economic growth in 2018 was 21.74 percent, which is much higher than that of the US (16.25 percent) and the eurozone (8.24 percent).
In 1980, China’s contribution to world economic growth was only 5.22 percent. This figure has tripled in the past 40 years. World Bank data shows that China’s annual contribution rate to world economic growth was 1.39 percent between 1961 and 1978, and 16.28 percent between 1978 and 2017. Although it was slightly lower than the US’ contribution rate from1978-2017 (17.14 percent), it was significantly higher than it was before the reform and opening-up.
Over the past 20 years, China’s contribution rate to world economic growth has been catching up to that of Japan, Asia’s most developed country, and the US, the world’s most developed economy. According to World Bank data, China’s share of world GDP (9.22 percent) began to exceed that of Japan (8.63 percent) in 2010, and the gap between China and US has been narrowing since 2003.China’s contribution rate to world economic growth has surpassed Japan’s since 1992 and the US since 2006. By the PPP method, China’s contribution rate to world economic growth has surpassed Japan’s since 1992 and the US since 2005.
China’s infrastructure network is becoming more and more comprehensive, and China provides diversified investment and financing-system assistance for infrastructure construction in many countries.
The 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China also celebrates the country’s rapid development in infrastructure construction. At the end of 2018, China’s highway mileage was 4.85 million km, of which 143,000 km were highways, ranking first in the world. China’s high-speed railway totals 30,000 km, also ranking first in the world. Its railway business mileage is 132,000 km, ranking second in the world. Under the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), China has signed increasing numbers of win-win cooperation projects. By the end of August 2019, 136 countries and 30 international organizations have signed 195 cooperation documents with China. From 2013-18, China accumulated roughly$90 billion in direct investment for countries along the BRI. China’s financial institutions have now constructed a long-term, stable and sustainable diversified financing system for national construction projects, providing financial guarantees for infrastructure construction in many countries.
Furthermore, China has made great contributions to poverty alleviation globally. It was the first country to achieve the standard of poverty reduction laid out in the UN’s Millennium Development Goals. In 1978, China’s poverty-stricken rural population was 770 million, compared with 16.6 million in 2018. The incidence of poverty also dropped sharply from 97.5 percent in 1978 to 1.7 percent in 2018. Poverty reduction in China has accelerated the process of global poverty reduction. China’s organized, planned and large-scale poverty alleviation development, especially the implementation of its prevision poverty-alleviation strategy, provides a model for global poverty reduction.
Since 2015, China has fought to win the battle against poverty, and subsequently introduced top-level, four-pillar and eight-pillars trategies to alleviate poverty. It has established a complete policy system, a comprehensive mobilization system, a supervision and inspection system, and an assessment system for poverty alleviation.
According to current poverty-alleviation standards in China’s rural areas, the rural poor population decreased by more than 80 million people from 2013-2018, according to the official introduction of the Poverty Alleviation Office of the State Council. The incidence of poverty dropped from 10.2 percent to 1.7 percent. In 2013, 436 of China’s 832 poverty-stricken counties had been lifted out of poverty. The number of people who experience reduced poverty has now stabilized between 8 and 10 million, which is a great achievement in the poverty reduction drive. In the future the difficulties of poverty alleviation will continue. There are higher costs of poverty alleviation in Western China, particularly in plateau alpine and arid desert areas, and in many areas of Southwest China where there is lack of fertile soil, economic development, highway construction and safe drinking water. Building a well-off society as a whole in 2020 will be a challenging target for China.
China’s desertification control provides a model for ecological control in arid areas worldwide. China’s forest cover increased from 12.7 percent in 1976 to 22.96 percent in 2018. After years of efforts, the greening campaign in Northwest China has achieved great results. From 1978-2018, the total carbon sequestration of deforestation in Northwest China, North China and Northeast China amounted to 2.32 billion tons, equivalent to 5.23 percent of China’s industrial carbon dioxide emissions during the same period. China has been attempting to control its desertification for many years. In recent years, a new technological combination of grass squares, desert algae and artemisia glue has been adopted, encouraging sandy soil to coagulate rapidly. The effects of scientific and technological desertification control are becoming increasingly clear.
From combating desertification to combating poverty, China is constantly looking for effective ways to deal with socio-environmental issues. Its ecosystem has been transformed from a vicious cycle to a virtuous one. With years of efforts and achievements, China has provided a valuable model for ecological governance in desert-climate areas around the world. At the same time, its control of desertification has led tens of millions of people out of poverty- a result which has been recognized by the international community.
China is also the world’s largest contributor to global ozone-layer protection. At present, China holds more than 50 percent of the total ozone-depleting substances in developing countries.
Finally, what is too important to be ignored is that China is approaching the cutting-edge level in the fields of information technology, communications, robotics and artificial intelligence. As China continues to open its market and integrate into the world, its technology innovations will spill over worldwide. With the gradual integration of science and technology into everyday life, China’s new “four great inventions,” online shopping, mobile payments, shared bicycles and high-speed rail, also provide convenience to more and more people around the world.
The author is head of fixed income at the research institute of Great Wall Securities and a part-time fellow of the Development Research Institute at Fudan University. firstname.lastname@example.org