Chinese economy is on track for developed status

Updated: 2016-02-02 10:03

By Kerry Brown(

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There remain plenty of sources of growth in China. Before panicking, therefore, we had better have a more sophisticated framework within which to conceptualize the current point of Chinese reform. Raw GDP can be dependent as much on wasteful, short lived, blind economic actions that lead to dead ends as on activities with real long term prospects. The story of growth in China now has to be about three things – quality, quality and quality. Quality in terms of environmental sustainability, in terms of meeting the aspirations for a better standard of living amongst Chinese people, and in terms of creating a properly modern, innovative, entrepreneurial model.

This is not something to be optimistic or pessimistic about. There isn't any alternative. As Deng Xiaoping said nearly three decades ago, it is a simple choice – reform or perdition. The main thing is to try to understand the goals that the Chinese economy is aiming for now are different from those in the early and middle era of reform. 6.8 percent growth if it is good quality and sustainable is significant – the EU, US or other developed economies would be happy with this. It is right to be vigilant and show concern, but the outside world, when it comes to Chinese growth, needs to stop panicking about the easy figures and start thinking about the real issues – how China's transition towards developed economic status was always going to be tough, and how, as long as the will, inside and outside China, is there, anything is possible.

The author is director of the Lau China Institute, professor of Chinese Studies at King's College, London and an associate of Chatham House. He is a sinologist and former British diplomat in Beijing.

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