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China: Economy#

Since the late 1970s China has moved from a closed, centrally planned system to a more market-oriented one that plays a major global role - in 2010 China became the world's largest exporter. Reforms began with the phasing out of collectivized agriculture, and expanded to include the gradual liberalization of prices, fiscal decentralization, increased autonomy for state enterprises, growth of the private sector, development of stock markets and a modern banking system, and opening to foreign trade and investment. China has implemented reforms in a gradualist fashion. In recent years, China has renewed its support for state-owned enterprises in sectors considered important to "economic security," explicitly looking to foster globally competitive industries. After keeping its currency tightly linked to the US dollar for years, in July 2005 China moved to an exchange rate system that references a basket of currencies. From mid 2005 to late 2008 cumulative appreciation of the renminbi against the US dollar was more than 20%, but the exchange rate remained virtually pegged to the dollar from the onset of the global financial crisis until June 2010, when Beijing allowed resumption of a gradual appreciation and expanded the daily trading band within which the RMB is permitted to fluctuate. The restructuring of the economy and resulting efficiency gains have contributed to a more than tenfold increase in GDP since 1978. Measured on a purchasing power parity (PPP) basis that adjusts for price differences, China in 2013 stood as the second-largest economy in the world after the US, having surpassed Japan in 2001. The dollar values of China's agricultural and industrial output each exceed those of the US; China is second to the US in the value of services it produces. Still, per capita income is below the world average. The Chinese government faces numerous economic challenges, including: (a) reducing its high domestic savings rate and correspondingly low domestic consumption; (b) facilitating higher-wage job opportunities for the aspiring middle class, including rural migrants and increasing numbers of college graduates; (c) reducing corruption and other economic crimes; and (d) containing environmental damage and social strife related to the economy's rapid transformation. Economic development has progressed further in coastal provinces than in the interior, and by 2011 more than 250 million migrant workers and their dependents had relocated to urban areas to find work. One consequence of population control policy is that China is now one of the most rapidly aging countries in the world. Deterioration in the environment - notably air pollution, soil erosion, and the steady fall of the water table, especially in the North - is another long-term problem. China continues to lose arable land because of erosion and economic development. The Chinese government is seeking to add energy production capacity from sources other than coal and oil, focusing on nuclear and alternative energy development. Several factors are converging to slow China's growth, including debt overhang from its credit-fueled stimulus program, industrial overcapacity, inefficient allocation of capital by state-owned banks, and the slow recovery of China's trading partners. The government's 12th Five-Year Plan, adopted in March 2011 and reiterated at the Communist Party's "Third Plenum" meeting in November 2013, emphasizes continued economic reforms and the need to increase domestic consumption in order to make the economy less dependent in the future on fixed investments, exports, and heavy industry. However, China has made only marginal progress toward these rebalancing goals. The new government of President XI Jinping has signaled a greater willingness to undertake reforms that focus on China's long-term economic health, including giving the market a more decisive role in allocating resources.

Economic Facts#

GDP (purchasing power parity)$13.39 trillion (2013 est.)
$12.43 trillion (2012 est.)
$11.54 trillion (2011 est.)
note: data are in 2013 US dollars
GDP - real growth rate7.7% (2013 est.)
7.7% (2012 est.)
9.3% (2011 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP)$9,800 (2013 est.)
$9,100 (2012 est.)
$8,300 (2011 est.)
note: data are in 2013 US dollars
GDP - composition, by sector of originagriculture: 10%
industry: 43.9%
services: 46.1%
(2013 est.)
Population below poverty line6.1%
note: in 2011, China set a new poverty line at RMB 2300 (approximately US $3,630)
Household income or consumption by percentage sharelowest 10%: 1.7%
highest 10%: 30%
note: data are for urban households only (2009)
Labor force - by occupationagriculture: 33.6%
industry: 30.3%
services: 36.1%
(2012 est.)
Exports - commoditieselectrical and other machinery, including data processing equipment, apparel, radio telephone handsets, textiles, integrated circuits
Exports - partnersHong Kong 17.4%, US 16.7%, Japan 6.8%, South Korea 4.1% (2013 est.)
Agriculture - productsworld leader in gross value of agricultural output; rice, wheat, potatoes, corn, peanuts, tea, millet, barley, apples, cotton, oilseed; pork; fish
Budgetrevenues: $2.118 trillion
expenditures: $2.292 trillion (2013 est.)
Imports - commoditieselectrical and other machinery, oil and mineral fuels; nuclear reactor, boiler, and machinery components; optical and medical equipment, metal ores, motor vehicles; soybeans
Imports - partnersSouth Korea 9.4%, Japan 8.3%, Taiwan 8%, United States 7.8%, Australia 5%, Germany 4.8% (2013 est.)
Exchange ratesRenminbi yuan (RMB) per US dollar -
6.2 (2013 est.)
6.3123 (2012 est.)
6.7703 (2010 est.)
6.8314 (2009)
6.9385 (2008)
Exports$2.21 trillion (2013 est.)
$2.049 trillion (2012 est.)
Debt - external$863.2 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
$737 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
Fiscal yearcalendar year
Imports$1.95 trillion (2013 est.)
$1.818 trillion (2012 est.)
Industrial production growth rate7.6% (2013 est.)
Industriesworld leader in gross value of industrial output; mining and ore processing, iron, steel, aluminum, and other metals, coal; machine building; armaments; textiles and apparel; petroleum; cement; chemicals; fertilizers; consumer products (including footwear, toys, and electronics); food processing; transportation equipment, including automobiles, rail cars and locomotives, ships, aircraft; telecommunications equipment, commercial space launch vehicles, satellites
Inflation rate (consumer prices)2.6% (2013 est.)
2.6% (2012 est.)
Labor force797.6 million
note: by the end of 2012, China's population at working age (15-64 years) was 1.0040 billion (2013 est.)
Unemployment rate4.1% (2013 est.)
4.1% (2012 est.)
note: data are for registered urban unemployment, which excludes private enterprises and migrants
Distribution of family income - Gini index47.3 (2013)
47.4 (2012)
Public debt22.4% of GDP (2013 est.)
26.1% of GDP (2012)
note: official data; data cover both central government debt and local government debt, which China's National Audit Office estimated at RMB 10.72 trillion (approximately US$1.66 trillion) in 2011; data exclude policy bank bonds, Ministry of Railway debt, China Asset Management Company debt, and non-performing loans
Current account balance$182.8 billion (2013 est.)
$215.4 billion (2012 est.)
Reserves of foreign exchange and gold$3.821 trillion (31 December 2013 est.)
$3.388 trillion (31 December 2012 est.)
GDP (official exchange rate)$9.33 trillion
note: because China's exchange rate is determine by fiat, rather than by market forces, the official exchange rate measure of GDP is not an accurate measure of China's output; GDP at the official exchange rate substantially understates the actual level of China's output vis-a-vis the rest of the world; in China's situation, GDP at purchasing power parity provides the best measure for comparing output across countries (2013 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment - at home$1.344 trillion (31 December 2012 est.)
$1.232 trillion (31 December 2011 est.)
Stock of direct foreign investment - abroad$541 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
$531.9 billion (31 December 2012 est.)
Market value of publicly traded shares$6.499 trillion (31 December 2013 est.)
$5.753 trillion (31 December 2012)
$3.389 trillion (31 December 2011 est.)
Central bank discount rate2.25% (31 December 2013 est.)
2.25% (31 December 2012 est.)
Commercial bank prime lending rate5.73% (31 December 2013 est.)
6% (31 December 2012 est.)
Stock of domestic credit$11.79 trillion (31 December 2013 est.)
$10.02 trillion (31 December 2012 est.)
Stock of narrow money$5.532 trillion (31 December 2013 est.)
$4.911 trillion (31 December 2012 est.)
Stock of broad money$18.15 trillion (31 December 2013 est.)
$15.5 trillion (31 December 2012 est.)
Taxes and other revenues19.4% of GDP (2013 est.)
Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)-2.1% of GDP (2013 est.)
GDP - composition, by end usehousehold consumption: 36.3%
government consumption: 13.7%
investment in fixed capital: 46%
investment in inventories: 1.2%
exports of goods and services: 25.1%
imports of goods and services: -22.2%
(2013 est.)
Gross national saving50% of GDP (2013 est.)
51.2% of GDP (2012 est.)
50.1% of GDP (2011 est.)