IN 2020, in the face of the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, while doing its utmost to fight the pandemic, China has striven to withstand the pressure of the world economic recession, actively adopted prudent economic policies and promoted economic and social development, becoming the only major economy in the world that achieved positive growth. So far this year, driven by a variety of government policies, China’s economy has made an exciting start early this year.
According to data released by National Bureau of Statistics of China, the gross domestic product (GDP) in the first quarter of 2021 reached 24,931 billion yuan (approximately $3,835.5 billion), up by 18.3 percent year on year and 10.3 percent over that in the first quarter of 2019, registering the largest single-quarter increase since 1970. Industrial production grew rapidly. “Staying put during Spring Festival” facilitated rapid recovery of industrial production.
The total value added of large-scale industrial enterprises increased by 24.5 percent year on year. The industrial electricity consumption and the railway freight volume expanded by 23.9 percent and 13.9 percent respectively year on year, and the industry capacity utilization rate is the highest for the same period since 2013.
The value added of equipment manufacturing and high-tech manufacturing increased by 39.9 percent and 31.2 percent respectively compared with the first quarter of last year. The production of new energy vehicles grew by 310 percent. Market vitality was effectively stimulated. A total of 2,792,000 new tax-related market entities were established during the first quarter of this year, registering a year-on-year increase of 86 percent.
The average number of the newlyregistered market entities was 65,900 per day, up by 73.8 percent compared to the same period last year. Market confidence and expectations have improved significantly. In March, the Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) of the manufacturing sector stood at 51.9 percent and the non-manufacturing business activity index was 56.3 percent.
The investment and consumption recovered steadily. The investment in fixed assets increased by 25.6 percent year on year, and the total retail sales of consumer goods grew by 33.9 percent. Foreign trade and foreign investment expanded significantly. In the first quarter, the total value of imports and exports of goods was 8,468.7 billion yuan, an increase of 29.2 percent over that of the previous year.
The total value of exports was 4,614 billion yuan, up by 38.7 percent year on year; and that of imports was 3,854.7 billion yuan, up by 19.3 percent compared to the last year; The utilization of foreign direct investment was 302.47 billion yuan, a year-on-year increase of 39.9 percent. The employment situation was generally stable.
The urban unemployment rate of the first quarter this year stood at 5.4 percent, down by 0.4 percent year on year. A total of 2,970,000 new urban jobs were created, and the urban unemployment rate of March was 5.3 percent. People’s living standards have been steadily improved. The nationwide per-capita disposable income of residents increased by 13.7 percent year on year.
The average proportion of days with good air quality was 80.9 percent, and the average concentration of fine particles in cities at and above the prefecture level declined by 2.2 percent. As the world’s second-largest economy and the main engine of global economic growth, China’s rapid economic development will make a positive contribution to further boosting confidence in economic development of all countries in the world, stimulating demand for international economic development and promoting world economic recovery. This year marks the start of implementing China’s 14th Five-Year Plan and the centenary of the founding of the Communist Party of China. Opening up a new journey of building a modern socialist country in an all-round way has higher demand on China’s development.
At the same time, the Covid-19 pandemic is still raging around the world, and the world economic growth remains lackluster. Facing the new situation, new opportunities and new challenges, China will continue to deepen reforms and expand opening-up, promote the implementation of proactive fiscal and prudent monetary policies, and foster a new development paradigm with domestic circulation being the mainstay and the two circulations reinforcing each other.
We will continue to give priority to employment and industrial upgrading, optimize the business environment, and share development opportunities with all countries in the world, including African countries, so as to help the world economy move beyond the shadow of the pandemic as soon as possible and speed up the post-pandemic recovery process.
● The writer is Wang Ke, Ambassador of China to Tanzania