China

China’s industry needs more qualitative upgrading

Monday, July 12th, 2021

Western politicians and business representatives often point at the big future technological challenges that companies from their own country will face from Chinese competitors. This will come true in many cases but certainly not automatically. My long-time feeling remains in place: Western knowledge about China continues mostly to be too general.

China is such a giant county

My impression from many trips to China still is in place that certain academically oriented views from Chinese researchers may be relatively open and humble. This seems to be possible when the Chinese feel that their discussions with foreign colleagues can be conducted in a fair way, of course “fair” according to some kind of international scientific definition. This can even provoke critical economic standpoints about the future by the Chinese themselves which, for example, can be found in the following article http://global.chinadaily.com.cn/a/202106/12/WS60c4045ba31024ad0bac671a.html).

At a seminar in June 2021 industry experts said according to the above-quoted article that “… the industrial structure of China needs urgent transformation during which the country should establish an entire industry chain that moves limited resources to high-end industries…”. Without doubt, there is an insight that China should manage a qualitative upgrading as soon as possible – meaning that China should be able to include everything in terms of industry chains.

However, we should at the same time try to understand the large-scale dimensions of the necessary improvements/innovations of products and industry chains. So much must happen in the giant country of China to come up to relevant macroeconomic dimensions!

At least many Chinese themselves are aware of this phenomenon and necessity. They know that China will have to work very hard itself. There is no automatic success story.

 

Hubert Fromlet
Affiliate Professor at the School of Business and Economics, Linnaeus University
Editorial board

 

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Emerging countries are still on the map

Monday, June 14th, 2021

Related to the covid-19 pandemic, I have at several occasions urged for more global vaccination solidarity – also in this blog. Really poor but also the somewhat more favored emerging countries have been for a long time – and still are – dramatically undersupplied with vaccines. Finally, the Indian drama was recognized in our part of the world. Africa was sometimes touched upon – but by far too little. Latin America was also neglected painfully – even Brazil. The following graph demonstrates that many countries and politicians really should feel ashamed https://ourworldindata.org/grapher/cumulative-covid-vaccinations-continent?country=Africa~Asia~Europe~North+America~Oceania~South+America.

If you wish, you can regularly join the updated global vaccination numbers according to the following source, also country by country https://ourworldindata.org/covid-vaccinations .

Whatever one may think politically, it cannot be neglected that President Biden has provided the emerging world with new hope and solidarity for the fight against corona. Hopefully, the mentioned numbers of additional vaccines at the G7 meeting in Cornwall can be kept alive or – preferably – be widened further.

Maybe the emerging world now also enters a new period of international multilateralism. This would be desirable and the only way forward for poor countries. We have seen too much bilateralism in the past years, mainly driven by the U.S., the UK and China.

In my view, bilateralism is also a crucial enemy for combatting the worsening global environment efficiently enough.

 

Hubert Fromlet
Affiliate Professor at the School of Business and Economics, Linnaeus University
Editorial board

 

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Handle comments on Chinese GDP growth carefully – exemplified by Q1

Thursday, April 22nd, 2021

The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) in Beijing published a couple of days ago the preliminary numbers for GDP growth during the first quarter 2021. An increase of 18.3 % was noted year on year (yoy) – highly appreciated by many commentators also in our part of the world. Sure, a number of them pointed also at the weak GDP development in the same period last year due to the corona shutdown. Consequently, the numerically strong GDP rise yoy in Q1 could be expected. But is the published number really reflecting very strong growth?

Modest growth in Q1compared to Q4

Despite frequently still existing – historically caused – doubts about transparency and quality of Chinese GDP statistics it should not be questioned that China had a remarkable recovery in the second half of 2020. However, there is a catch: Compared to Q4 last year, recent official GDP growth for Q1 looks much more modest (+0.6% qoq). We even can observe a slowdown compared to previous quarterly changes.

Chinese official statistics show the following numbers according to NBS:

GDP changes yoy

GDP changes qoq (%)

Q 1  2021

18.3

0.6

Q 4  2020

6.5

3.2

Q 3  2020

4.9

3.1

Q 2  2020

3.2

10.1

Q 1  2020

-6.8

-9.3

Q 4  2019

5.8

1.6

Q 3  2019

5.9

1.3

Re-newed acceleration in the cards – growth goals will be met

I have not found any illuminating comments on the GDP development of the first quarter this year. Sure, there were the new-year celebrations with production shortfalls. We also noticed softer PMI subindicators for March (new orders, production). But what else can be added? More transparency would have been nice.

However, it cannot be ruled out that some strengthening growth took place already at the end of Q1. Re-newed statistical acceleration of GDP growth will probably start in Q2, due to improving international demand in the first place. Altogether, China will most probably continue to be on track to meet the official objective of “more than 6 percent GDP growth”. 7-8 % seem to be achievable in 2021.

 

Hubert Fromlet
Affiliate Professor at the School of Business and Economics, Linnaeus University
Editorial board

 

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