ChInSEA new driver of global growth

Updated: 2014-12-13 09:00

By Milind Pant(China Daily)

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China, India and South East Asia (ChInSEA pr: qínsè) comprise almost half of humanity today. China, India and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations have been the three fastest growing economies over the past two years. Amid the global slowdown, ChInSEA contributed more than 50 percent of the global GDP growth last year. As the Brazilian economy slows down and Russia sputters, ChInSEA has emerged as the new driver of global growth.

Going by Asian philosophy, the five key sutras (threads of thought) for ChInSEA's growth are:

First, China, India and the 10 member states of ASEAN share many a common border, sea link and ancient route that have facilitated the flow of people, ideas and trade. In recent years, massive investments have gone into building roads, ports and railways in the three economies. A high-speed rail network linking Kunming in Yunnan province to Singapore is in the pipeline, as is a "Maritime Silk Road". A $40-billion new Silk Road infrastructure fund has been set up. The leadership is clearly with China, though India too is planning a highway from Kolkata in the eastern part of the country to Thailand via Myanmar. And Thailand is investing in Dawei (Myanmar) to build a port and gas pipelines.

India and Indonesia are two of the youngest nations with the median age of 26 and 28 years. Although China's median age is 35, the easing of the strict family planning policy augurs well for its future workforce.

With digital technology changing lives, China seems to have an edge over other countries because its smartphone population is twice the total population of the United States. As a result, small town businesses even in inland provinces are connected to online retailers like Taobao, China's largest e-commerce platform.

Second, China's urban population reached 54 percent in 2013; it is expected to reach 70 percent (1 billion people) by 2030. This growth will be aided by continued investment in infrastructure and the hukou (household registration) reform. By 2025, China is likely to have almost 225 cities with a population of 1 million or more compared with 35 cities with such demographics in Europe today.

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