Business / Opinion

Improve quality of growth

By Pan Fan (China Daily) Updated: 2014-05-06 15:01

Despite its colossal size, China's per capita GDP still lags behind that of some developing countries, not to mention developed ones

If calculated according to purchasing power parity, China is poised to overtake the United States as the world's largest economy in the course of this fiscal year, six years earlier than previously estimated, the World Bank's International Comparison Program said last week.

Improve quality of growth
Pulling ahead in purchasing power 

Improve quality of growth
Top 10 regions with highest GDP in China 
At a news conference days earlier, an official from the National Development and Reform Commission said that China's current per capita GDP exceeds $6,700 and thus it falls into the category of a medium-to-high income country. He also said China will likely rank as a high-income country if it can do just a little better during the next Five-Year Plan period (2016-20).

Quite a few Chinese people immediately cast doubts on these claims. As a matter of fact, this is not the first time that such a response has emerged. Any time a government department or research institute puts forward the view that China has reached, or at least some of its developed regions have reached, the level of a middle or high-income country, fierce voices of disagreement are always heard.

Yet according to the latest World Bank data and international standards, China's economic scale is enormous and its per capita GDP is above the world's middle level. Thus, the NDRC official's voiced optimism regarding China's economic status is not completely unreasonable.

However, the suspicions expressed on social media against such optimism are also by no means groundless. Despite its colossal economic size, it is a basic fact that China's per capita GDP still lags behind that of developed countries, and even a large number of developing ones. Furthermore, not only quantity but also quality should be taken into consideration when measuring a country's GDP, either on a general or a per capita basis. Only with such an approach can a scientific and objective judgment be made over the country's economic development and its place in the world.

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