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UNDP Report: China's Spectacular but Incomplete Rise

UNDP by Victoria Cole, July 27, 2015 Adjust font size:

The United Nations Development Programme, in partnership with the CCIEE and the SIIS, published a report entitled, "Rebalancing Global Economic Governance – Opportunities for China and the G20 beyond 2015." The report highlights the importance of global governance and sustainable development to "add value to ongoing debates and inform the work of policy makers and practitioners in China as well as around the world."

What is China's Role in Global Development as a Developing Power that is Global in Nature? (Chapter 3)

3.1.1 An Outstanding Development Experience

During the three decades after China's reform and opening up policies were applied, China's economy grew at an average rate of 9.8% per year, 6.8% higher than the world average, and its global GDP share increased from 1.7% in 1978 to 12% in 2013. China is now the second largest economy in the world after the U.S.

Trade has long been a powerful engine for China's economic growth. China has recorded a significant rise in its foreign trade since the early 1980s, its share of global exports increased from 0.79% in 1982 to 10.4% in 2013, while its share of imports grew from 0.61% to 9.7% over the same period. With a total import and export value totaling over US$4 trillion in 2013, China surpassed the U.S. to become the world's largest trader. Thanks the tremendous growth in its net exports, China's foreign exchange reserves now equals around one third of the world total.

In addition to trade, investment has also been an important engine for growth in China. The average growth rate of FDI inflows to China was as high as 36% between 1980 and 2013. In recent years, the growth in FDI inflows has slowed, but the share of China's global FDI outflows saw a sharp increase from 0.07% in 2000 to 7.16% in 2013. In 2014, China finally became a net FDI exporter.

China is often used as an example by other countries at similar stages of development, however many question the extent to which China's development experience is replicable. Other indicators that exemplify China's rise are not always considered positive, like being the largest global energy consumer and the largest greenhouse emitter.

Framing China's results within the MDG agenda though, it is undeniable that China has made substantial progress in realizing several crucial goals. Between 1990 and 2005, over 470 million people in China were lifted out of extreme poverty and given access to clean drinking water, and gender disparity in primary and secondary education was largely eliminated.

Indeed, some of China's achievements have exceeded expectations. In terms of eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, the proportion of rural Chinese population living under US$1.25 per day was reduced from 46% in 1990 to 10.4% by 2005 – over a decade ahead of schedule. This made China the first developing country to achieve the MDG poverty reduction target.

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