Column: China's economic rebound sparks renewed spirit of confidence and hope

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, March 6, 2023
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by Shamim Zakaria

BEIJING, March 6 (Xinhua) -- As the wheels of life and labor spin back into motion at an accelerated pace, China's economy is experiencing a splendid resurgence at the outset of the year.

This year, in particular, is of immense significance for the world's second-largest economy as it lays the groundwork for its future trajectory after the country achieved a decisive victory over COVID-19.

Consequently, the annual "two sessions" -- or Lianghui -- which commenced over the weekend, ignited a palpable sense of excitement and optimism for the country's future, as a series of development targets for 2023 were announced in a government work report.

In a flourish of economic vitality, China has set an impressive gross domestic product (GDP) growth target of around 5 percent in 2023, and vowed to create around 12 million urban jobs and keep inflation at around 3 percent.


From the captivating visuals on its streets to the promising financial projections and growth outlook, China has undergone a remarkable transformation since the country optimized its COVID-19 response. In fact, I had already sensed the rapid recovery of China's economy in advance.

The memories of December 2022 are still vivid in my mind as I made my way toward the Beijing Capital International Airport. I couldn't help but notice that the streets were almost vacant. The country was experiencing a sudden and massive spike in COVID-19 infections, and it seemed as though people had voluntarily chosen to remain indoors, despite the removal of most COVID-19 control measures.

Fast-forward to February 2023, as I returned to Beijing after a blissful holiday, the roads were now bustling with the sounds and sights of people going about their daily lives, and the air was thick with the heady scent of possibility.

This is the Beijing I am familiar with!

China's proposed annual growth target is more than just a figure; it encompasses heartfelt human stories. The owner of an eatery situated close to my home expressed her enthusiasm about reopening under optimized COVID-19 control.

"I had been eagerly looking forward to welcoming my customers again," she exclaimed. "I've missed them so much!"

Another entrepreneur friend of mine, a young man who runs his own tech company, was thrilled at the prospect of being able to resume in-person meetings with clients and investors. "It's so much easier to build relationships when you can meet face-to-face," he told me when we recently met over coffee. "I'm excited to be able to get back out there and make things happen."

Global institutions have heightened their projections for China's economic revival. In January, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) increased its estimate for China's economic growth this year to 5.2 percent, up 0.8 percentage points from last October. The IMF cited China and India as the main drivers of global economic growth this year, a prospect that brings me great joy. Meanwhile, Moody's, an international credit rating agency, anticipates that China's economic resurgence may exceed expectations in the near term.

Across China, small businesses and entrepreneurs are reporting a surge in demand for their products and services, as consumers eager to make up for lost time are once again venturing out into the streets.

China holds a prominent position in the global economy as a major manufacturing hub and a vast consumer market. With a population of 1.4 billion, the country boasts over 400 million middle-income earners. Prior to the outbreak of COVID-19, consumption had been a significant contributor to the country's GDP.

The government work report emphasized the need to give priority to the recovery and expansion of consumption. Other key priorities include accelerating the modernization of the industrial system, deepening the reform of state-owned enterprises while giving the private sector and private businesses support, and intensifying efforts to attract and utilize foreign investment.


China's economic recovery has continued to gather momentum, with its growth-focused policy pragmatism reviving job confidence.

Due to various factors such as the severe impact of the pandemic, high unemployment rates have emerged as one of the most pressing issues in numerous countries, including my home country of India.

However, it is quite evident that China has remained committed to generating employment opportunities despite the headwinds.

As the country emerges from the pandemic, it will implement the employment-first policy and place a higher priority on the employment of young people, particularly college graduates, according to the government work report.

China's job seekers are reveling in the country's economic resurgence and reopening. With a visible smile on her face and a glimmer in her eyes, a recent graduate described how she secured a highly sought-after job at a multinational corporation.

"The past year has been challenging, with uncertainty and anxiety looming over our heads," she said. "But with the country's remarkable handling of the pandemic and the swift economic recovery, things are looking up. Companies are hiring again, and the competition is fierce, but I remained hopeful."

Her story is not unique. As one strolls through the bustling streets of Beijing, it's impossible to miss the billboards that boldly advertise job vacancies and the recruitment booths that dot public places, reigniting hope and optimism among job seekers.

China's economic growth rate dropped to 3 percent last year, showing a slight deceleration, but the country's underlying economic health remains robust. Notably, one of the highlights is stable prices. While global inflation has surged to its highest level in over 40 years, China's Consumer Price Index (CPI) only rose by 2 percent in the context of 8 percent and above in the United States and the eurozone.

This year, China's CPI increase target is 3 percent. This goal reflects the country's commitment to maintaining low inflation, fostering a stable environment for economic growth, and safeguarding the well-being of its people.

High inflation has adversely affected the purchasing power of ordinary people in several countries, such as the United States, and in Europe. Nonetheless, in Beijing, the cost of my daily expenses has remained relatively stable over the past few years. For instance, the sandwich I have for breakfast every day still costs around 4 U.S. dollars, excluding delivery.


Meanwhile, foreign businesses are setting their sights on China once again. Confidence is high and expansion plans are being made.

The resurgence of the Chinese economy has garnered widespread global attention, igniting a fervor among international investors. The foreign direct investment, in actual use, expanded 14.5 percent year on year to 127.69 billion yuan in January, according to the Ministry of Commerce.

Anecdotal evidence abounds of companies eager to take advantage of China's vast and growing economy.

An article on the website of the British "Daily Telegraph" stated that the Chinese market is "one of the most attractive investment opportunities this year."

According to Yin Zheng, executive vice president of Schneider Electric's China & East Asia Operations, China is not only a huge market but also a driving force for development and a source of innovation.

Personal sentiments are similarly positive. Many executives and business owners express a sense of optimism, knowing that they can now move forward with their plans in China.

One executive spoke of his excitement at the prospect of reopening the company's office in Shanghai. "We've been waiting for this moment for a long time," he told me. "We're ready to hit the ground running."

Whether it's a renewed focus on expanding into new markets, or simply the joy of being able to reconnect with colleagues and partners, there is a feeling that a new era of growth and opportunity has arisen.

As an expat who has made China my home for several years, I'm breathing a sigh of relief and beaming with happiness, wishing to continue the life I have cherished in the country. Enditem

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