China’s GDP exceeds 100 trillion yuan for first time

Late-season rice in Longji township, Sihong county, Suqian, east China’s Jiangsu province is reaped by machines, Nov. 14, 2020. (Photo by Zhang Lianhua/People’s Daily Online)

China’s GDP expanded 2.3 percent and hit 101.5986 trillion yuan ($15.51 trillion) in 2020, exceeding the 100 trillion yuan mark for the first time, official data showed on Monday, January 18.

Facing the rare COVID-19 pandemic, the world economy plunged into the most severe recession since the end of the World War II over the last year. The Chinese economy also slipped 6.8 percent year-on-year in the first quarter, the first ever negative growth registered since the country started recording quarterly economic data.

At the critical moment, the Chinese government precisely assessed the situation, took decisive actions and coordinated epidemic prevention and control and economic and social development. Launching a battle against the epidemic by mobilizing all resources and blocking the spread of the virus, China pledged to increase its deficit by 1 trillion yuan over last year and issue 1 trillion yuan of government bonds for COVID-19 control. It also called on financial institutions to concede 1.5 trillion yuan worth of their profits to companies and increased tax and fee cuts by 2.5 trillion yuan.

Thanks to these efforts, China became the first country to control the pandemic and resumed work and production, being the first major economy to recover positive growth. The growths of the country’s economy in the four quarters last year were -6.8 percent, 3.2 percent, 4.9 percent and 6.5 percent, respectively, and China is predicted to be the only major economy that is able to secure positive growth. The country’s economic value now accounts for 17 percent of the total global economy, up from 16.3 percent in 2019, making a new historical record.

As the country steps onto a higher level economy-wise, great strides have also been made in its social, technological and ecological progress.

The last nine impoverished counties of the country, all in southwest China’s Guizhou province, have eliminated absolute poverty, the province announced on Nov. 23, 2020. This meant that all 832 registered poor counties in China have shaken off poverty, indicating that the country has achieved the poverty reduction target of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development 10 years ahead of schedule.

The country’s Chang’e-5 probe returned the Earth after retrieving lunar samples, and its Mars mission Tianwen-1 was successfully launched. In addition, China announces the completion of the BeiDou Navigation Satellite System and started providing all Beidou services. Its quantum computer prototype Jiuzhang was also created.

Though impacted by COVID-19, China’s innovation and development still step forward. The country unswervingly implemented its new vision for development and promoted high-quality development, which resulted in a steady rise in both the quality and benefits of its economic growth, said Ning Jizhe, head of the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS). China has brought its social productive forces to a new level, he added.

What’s behind the 100 trillion yuan mark is the constant improvement in China’s comprehensive national strength. Last year, China’s total grain output hit a new record in history, exceeding 650 billion kilograms for six consecutive years and ranking the first in the world. Its added value of manufacturing industry is also expected to top the world for 11 years in a row. The total mileage of operational high-speed rails in China has hit 38,000 kilometers, and its expressways add up to over 155,000 kilometers, both ranking the first in the world. Besides, China is also a country that holds the most 5G users, with more than 200 million terminals connected to its 5G network.

What’s behind the 100 trillion yuan mark is prominent restructuring. Last year, the added value of China’s service industry accounted for 54.5 percent of its GDP, 0.2 percentage point higher from a year ago. Final consumption contributed to 54.3 percent of China’s GDP, 11.2 percentage points higher than the gross capital formation.

What’s behind the 100 trillion yuan mark is also the country’s endeavor to advance green development. In 2020, China witnessed decreased energy consumption per unit of GDP, and clean energy accounted one more percent in total energy consumption from a year ago. The PM2.5 concentration dropped 8.3 percent in 337 cities at and above prefectural level, and the proportion of high-quality water sections was up 8.5 percentage points.

While achieving its own progress, China is also injecting more positive energy into the global economic development. The Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) agreement was signed on Nov. 15, 2020 after eight years of negotiation. The 15 participating countries of the RCEP account for around 30 percent of the global population, global gross domestic product and global trade, which means the world’s biggest trade pact has officially come into effect.

When COVID-19 impeded the trend of economic globalization, China is not pursuing only its own development in a rat race, or closing its doors. On the contrary, it is accelerating the fostering of a new development paradigm with domestic circulation as the mainstay and domestic and international circulations reinforcing each other to contribute more to the world.

In 2020, the China-Europe freight trains made 12,400 trips, up 50 percent against head winds, reaching 97 cities in 21 European countries. They helped maintain the production and daily supply in these places.

Lowering the investment threshold, China implemented a 2020 version of the negative lists for foreign investment, which opened wider its service, manufacturing and agricultural sectors. The national negative list has cut the number of restrictive measures by 17.5 percent, and the free trade zone negative list by 18.9 percent.

From the first-ever online China Import and Export Fair, to the China International Fair for Trade in Services on which 99 innovative results were first released, and to the China International Import Expo during which $72.6 billion worth of intended deals were signed, China has opened its door wider and wider.

When global trade faced tremendous contraction in 2020, China’s foreign trade of goods hit a record high, up 1.9 percent from a year ago, injecting powerful impetus to the global economic recovery.

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