BEIJING — Economists and scholars are praising China’s commitment to encourage high-quality development, as the Central Economic Work Conference that concluded on Dec 20 outlined the country’s economic work for 2018.
The three-day meeting unveiled Xi Jinping Thought on Socialist Economy with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era and stressed the importance of high-quality economic growth. As China has become indispensable to the world economy, the conference attracted immediate attention from both home and abroad.
Enough to be proud of
Growth is projected at 6.8 percent in 2017, exceeding initial expectations, the World Bank’s China Economic Update reported on Dec 18.
Economic growth in China has remained strong in 2017, supported by rising household incomes and improving external demand, the report said.
“China has maintained its growth resilience and gained reform momentum. The authorities have undertaken a host of policy and regulatory measures aimed at reducing macroeconomic imbalances and limiting financial risks without notable impact on growth,” said John Litwack, World Bank lead economist for China.
“2017 has been a successful year for China,” he added.
“China is no longer the developing economy that relies on low costs but today it competes on the mid- to high-end markets and if it is to be successful it has to step up the reliance and quality of its products and production,” said Niklas Swanstrom, director of the Institute for Security and Development Policy.
“It is beyond doubt that China has invested the most of all states in green technology and the impact is very impressive,” he added.
China’s adoption of high-end development has a global dimension as China is pushing manufacturing as well as finance toward digitization, said Hans Hendrischke, chair of the business and economics cluster of the China Studies Center based in the University of Sydney.
“It is important to maintain the priority of stable and socially and environmentally sustainable economic growth,” said Hendrischke, also a professor of Chinese business and management. “For outside observers it is difficult to see how fast progress has been in these areas.”
“The 13th Five-Year Plan is the single most compelling five-year plan that China has ever made,” said Joe Kaeser, president and CEO of Siemens AG.
According to Xi, the year 2018 is the first year in implementing the development blueprint outlined at the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China in October, and also a crucial year in carrying out the 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-2020).
“The Belt and Road Initiative is a huge opportunity for China and the world and much has already been accomplished,” said Kaeser.
Proposed by China in 2013, the Belt and Road Initiative is aimed at building trade and infrastructure networks connecting Asia with Europe and Africa based on ancient land and maritime trade routes. It comprises the Silk Road Economic Belt and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road.
“Siemens’ supply chain is related to structural reforms that are taking place in China, which generate new opportunities in high-end manufacturing such as automotive, aerospace and artificial intelligence,” Kaeser said.
“We predict that China’s economy will grow more than 6 percent in 2018 and 2019. For an economy that is as large as China’s, a 6-percent growth is still a very strong contribution to the world economy,” said Stefan Kooths, director of Kiel Institute for the World Economy Forecasting Center.
Regarding government intervention, Kooths said the Chinese government has many more instruments to steer the economy.
“Given there are no risks of financial crisis, China still has a lot of room to grow into,” he said.