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2011年1月22日 (土)

GDP世界2位 「昇竜中国」にも課題は多い

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Jan. 22, 2011)
Rising dragon, China faces many challenges
GDP世界2位 「昇竜中国」にも課題は多い(1月21日付・読売社説)

It is now certain that China will overtake Japan as the world's second-largest economy, as evidenced by China's gross domestic product in 2010.

China's economy grew 10.3 percent in real terms last year, with its GDP totaling 39.8 trillion yuan (about 5.88 trillion dollars) on a nominal basis, according to a preliminary report announced Thursday by the Chinese government.

Japan's nominal GDP in 2010 will be announced in February, but it is expected to total about 5.45 trillion dollars and is certain to fall below China's.

Japan has been the world's second-largest economy after the United States since 1968. As a result of the prolonged economic stagnation that followed the collapse of the bubble economy in the early 1990s, however, it will relinquish that status to China. This is indeed a historic switch in the two countries' rankings.


Significant income gaps

Despite its robust growth, however, China's economy faces a mountain of challenges. China's per capita GDP stands at about 4,000 dollars, or just one-tenth of Japan's, and there are large income gaps between people in urban and rural areas, and between people in coastal and inland areas.

The challenge lies in whether the country can rectify these disparities and achieve balanced growth.

The Chinese economy has grown fast, primarily because Beijing has used its ample supply of cheap labor to bring in foreign capital.

With China seen as "the world's factory," meaning a leading manufacturer and exporter of consumer goods, foreign capital has flooded into the country, bringing about rapid economic growth driven by exports.

Beijing quickly overcame the financial crisis in 2008 and the subsequent global recession, thanks to its sizable economic stimulus measures. Events of great national significance, such as the Summer Olympics in Beijing in 2008 and the World Expo in Shanghai in 2010, appear to have provided a good tailwind for economic growth.


Food, other prices climb

As a result of the overheated economy, the prices of food and other commodities have soared in recent years. The biggest cause of concern is the economic bubble that has developed in the real estate sector.

Late last year Chinese authorities changed the country's monetary policy and tightened credit, raising interest rates twice. Although these were quite reasonable measures, they will only have a limited effect on holding down inflation.

There also are signs the economic bubble is expanding.

How will Beijing cool down its overheated economy, while averting a downturn as a result of rapid credit tightening? Guiding the Chinese economy is very difficult, but its stability will influence the prospects for a full-fledged recovery in the world economy.

China's yuan currency also is still undergoing reform. Chinese authorities are limiting the yuan's appreciation by intervening in the exchange markets, which means surplus money is in circulation, bringing about price increases.

As a result of the currency market interventions, China's foreign reserves reached the unusually high figure of about 2.8 trillion dollars (about 236 trillion yen) at the end of last year. The yuan needs to be revaluated steadily, commensurate to the country's economic strength.

It is very important for China to bring about a structural shift to an economy that does not overly depend on exports but is fueled by domestic demand.

The country has a large role to assume in such global issues as fighting global warming. China's international responsibilities as an economic powerhouse will continue to grow.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, Jan. 21, 2011)
(2011年1月21日01時14分  読売新聞)


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