In 2021, facing complex domestic and international landscapes and all kinds of risks and challenges, China has occupied a leading position in both economic development and Covid-19 response through concerted efforts in all of China, keeping economic performance within an appropriate range. The main tasks and objectives for 2021 have been completed.
We have made new progress in building a new development paradigm and marked new achievements in high-quality development. The 14th five-year plan was off to a good start. The achievements are mainly as follows.
First, China’s economic growth has been leading the world, with significantly increased economic strength. China’s economic growth ranked among the best of the world’s major economies, with 2021 GDP growing 8.1% year-on-year.
GDP reached 114.4 trillion yuan, exceeding 110 trillion yuan. This amounted to US$17.7 trillion at the annual average exchange rate, which ranked second in the world. GDP per capita was 80,976 yuan and US$12,551, at the annual average exchange rate above US$12,000. At the end of 2021, China’s foreign exchange reserves stood at US$3.2502 trillion, the largest in the world.
Second, foreign trade and investment have increased rapidly, and openness has continued to expand. As a result, the volume and quality of trade goods had increased. In 2021, China’s total merchandise imports and exports grew 21.4% year-on-year to 39.1 trillion yuan, a two-year average growth of 11.3%. Counted in US dollars, the trading volume was 6.05 trillion US dollars, accounting for a larger proportion in the global market.
General trade imports and exports accounted for 61.6 percent of total trade volume, up 1.6 percentage points year-on-year. Trade in services continued to recover. From January to November 2021, total services trade increased by 14.7% year-on-year, with services exports increasing by 31.5%. The investment attracted set a new record.
The foreign capital actually employed in 2021 was 1.1494 trillion yuan, up 14.9%. largest foreign investor in the world.
Third, efforts to secure people’s livelihood have been firm and effective, increasing people’s sense of fulfillment. As a result, people’s income increased at a rapid rate. In 2021, Chinese citizens’ net income from wages and salaries, net business income and net property income increased by 9.6%, 11.0% and 10.2%, respectively.
As a result, the urban-rural income gap has been reduced. The urban-rural per capita disposable income ratio in 2021 was 2.5, 0.06 percentage points lower than in 2020. Production and sales of basic consumer goods in 2021 have seen steady growth .
Value added by the over-designated consumer goods manufacturing industry increased 9.8% year-on-year. Retail sales of grain, oil and food, beverage and daily necessities by companies above designated size all recorded double-digit growth.
Investment to improve the standard of living has increased. Investment in social sectors increased by 10.7% year-on-year. Specifically, investments in education and public health increased by 11.7% and 24.5%, respectively. In 2021, 12.69 million urban jobs were added, reaching the planned target of over 11 million.
The urban unemployment rate surveyed was 5.1%, below the target of around 5.5%. The consumer price has increased slightly. The CPI in 2021 increased by 0.9% year-on-year, which is below the target of around 3%.
Fourth, the dynamics of innovation have intensified, new industries and new forms of business have flourished. In 2021, national R&D spending grew by 14.2%, 4 percentage points higher than last year’s growth rate, maintaining double-digit growth since the 13th Five-Year Plan period (2016- 2020).
R&D spending accounted for 2.44% of GDP, up 0.03 percentage point from last year. Specifically, basic research spending increased by 15.6% year-on-year, accounting for 6.09% of total R&D spending, up 0.08 percentage points from last year.
The added value of high-tech manufacturing increased by 18.2% year-on-year. The new generation of information technology has accelerated its penetration and integration into new consumer areas such as online shopping, mobile payment and online-to-offline commerce.
Fifth, grain production has reached a new high and livestock production has increased steadily. Total grain production in 2021 was 682.85 million metric tons, an increase of 13.36 million metric tons, up 2% from the previous year, a new high.
It has remained above 600 million tonnes for seven consecutive years, laying a solid foundation for ensuring market supply and stabilizing prices. The total production of beef, mutton and poultry, etc. in 2021 was 88.87 million metric tons, up 16.3% from the previous year.
Sixth, China’s contribution to the world economy has increased. According to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), China is expected to account for around 18% of the global economy in 2021, which is a steady increase over the years. Last year marked the eighth anniversary of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).
Since the implementation of the BRI, trade relations between China and the countries participating in the BRI have been increasingly strengthened. Data from China Customs showed that in 2021, China’s imports and exports to countries along BRI routes reached 11.6 trillion yuan, up 23.6%, or 2, 2 percentage points higher than China’s overall foreign trade growth rate over the same period. Of this amount, exports reached 6.59 trillion yuan, up 21.5%; imports totaled 5.01 trillion yuan, up 26.4%.
The year 2021 also marked the 20th anniversary of China’s accession to the WTO. Customs data showed that China’s total import and export volume increased from 4.22 trillion yuan in 2001 to 39.1 trillion yuan in 2021, rising by an average annual rate of 12.2 percent.
On January 1, 2022, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) Agreement entered into force in six ASEAN countries, namely Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, as well as China , Japan, New Zealand and Australia, marking the start of the world’s largest free trade area to date. China will make a great contribution to improving global economic governance and promoting economic globalization.
For now, the global recovery remains fragile and tortuous. Inflation, debt, energy and supply chain crises have become intertwined. Facing the complex and serious economic situation, the fundamentals supporting China’s long-term economic growth and the advantages of forming a new development paradigm remain unchanged, and new engines of economic growth will continue to emerge.
On the basis of the new stage of development, China’s economy full of resilience and great potential, and China will fully, accurately and comprehensively implement the new vision of development, work hard and tirelessly to accelerate the construction of a new development paradigm.
China will work with all countries, including Pakistan, to actively safeguard the stable and smooth operation of global industrial and supply chains, pursue deeper and more substantial progress in high-quality “Belt and Road”, and bring more energy to the global economic recovery.
(The author is Consul General of China in Karachi)
Copyright Business Recorder, 2022