Foreign scholars show confidence in Chinese economy

By BAI LE / 04-18-2024 / Chinese Social Sciences Today

An AI-designed jewelry ornament is displayed at the Fourth China International Consumer Products Expo, held from April 13 to 18, in Haikou, Hainan Province. The expo aims to bring new opportunities to global consumption growth. Photo: XINHUA

During this year’s “Two Sessions,” the government work report set the target for China’s GDP growth in 2024 at around 5%. This announcement has garnered significant attention from foreign media and international academia. Public opinion suggests that maintaining the same target as last year reflects the Chinese government’s overall assessment of both domestic and international economic conditions. It signals a positive, pragmatic, and steady trajectory for the Chinese economy. 

To explore the uniqueness of China’s economic governance model from comparative perspectives, CSST recently conducted interviews with Majidreza Hariri, head of the Iran-China Joint Chamber of Commerce; George Tzogopoulos, director of EU-China Programmes at the Centre international de formation européenne (CIFE); and William Grimes, a professor of international relations at the Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies at Boston University. 

Encouraging indicators 

Tzogopoulos highlighted the significance of this year’s Two Sessions as a pivotal political event in China, saying the meetings have shed new light on the country’s economic future. “The GDP growth target of around 5% sounds reasonable, and this means the contribution of the Chinese economy to world economic growth will continue to exceed 30%. The target reflects the actual conditions of the Chinese economy, which is prudent, confident, and rational,” Tzogopoulos said. 

In Tzogopoulos’ view, the COVID-19 pandemic was an unprecedented crisis that impacted production and consumption, and China was not immune to its impact. “The growth of the Chinese economy in 2023 has been higher than many analysts expected. Some recent signs are positive. For example, passenger traffic and tourism consumption was record-high during the Spring Festival holiday,” he said.

Hariri agreed with Tzogopoulos’ assessment. He noted that 2023, being the first year following the formal resolution of the COVID-19 crisis, was marked by relative global stagnation exacerbated by regional conflicts in Eastern Europe and shifts in US international behavior, among other factors. “But according to all the above, the Chinese economy, with simultaneous attention to resources of super domestic markets and foreign opportunities, was able to complete the eventful year of 2023, and there are signs of improvement in the economic situation this year. I believe 2024 will be a more stable year than last year for many foreign companies and foreign investors,” Hariri said. 

Overreaction from the West 

Hariri pointed out that the signs of smears directed at China regarding its steady economy are clearly visible to many scholars and activists. “Media, briefings, and advertisements are among the important tools of these fake news and resistances, so I personally do not believe in such analyses from the so-called well-known Western media about the prospects of the Chinese economy, nor do I attach importance to such analyses. The discrediting of China’s economy is an act of overreaction caused by declining American hegemony and Western influence. ” 

“Every economy has encountered serious challenges in recent years, and some developing economies face risks of hard landing,” Grimes said. “There are significant challenges for China from the outside. However, China is not on the verge of an economic crisis as some Western media say. Compared with Western countries, China has the tools to prevent crisis, for example, in real estate and local government finance from spreading across the entire system of economy.” 

Locomotive of global recovery

Hariri emphasized China’s status as a successful model of growth and development in the world. As the locomotive of post-pandemic global economic recovery, certainly China is poised to play an increasingly important role in addressing the global economic deficit and reforming the existing order, in 2024 and beyond, establishing groundwork for the future order. “China’s role in the leadership of the developing countries will become stronger and more fundamental,” he added.

Elaborating on the current global economic patterns, Grimes underlined the challenges posed by high-interest-rate policies in the United States and Europe for heavily indebted developing economies. Looking ahead, climate change has already raised severe economic risks for certain countries and made many more vulnerable. For example, devastating floods have occurred in Pakistan and Honduras over the past two years, resulting in significant economic losses. 

Tzogopoulos echoed similar sentiments, underscoring the critical role of US-China relations in shaping the future development of the Chinese economy. “If the San Francisco momentum of what they call ‘de-risking’ continues, this will inject a sentiment of uncertainty to the world economy,” Tzogopoulos predicted.  

“However, this can create both opportunities and challenges. The Chinese economy will always revitalize itself in hard times. I believe that results speak for themselves. China was once a poor country and has evolved into the second largest economy in the world. This shows that the modernization model is successful. Of course, the work is not yet completed,” Tzogopoulos concluded.