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Newsweek: China’s Economy Benefitted from Covid

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As countries around the world staggered under the weight of economic disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, China’s economy emerged with a grim resilience, turning the global crisis into an unexpected advantage. According to Newsweek’s Micah McCartney, recent data from China’s customs administration indicates that Chinese exports in U.S. dollars saw a modest rise of 1.5 percent last month compared to April 2023. This growth, albeit slight, signals a beacon of hope amidst an otherwise bleak economic landscape, following a significant 7.5-percent year-on-year plummet in March—the lowest in seven months. The increase in exports marks a critical lifeline as China continues to struggle with a plethora of economic woes, including a protracted slump in the property market, soaring public debt, and mounting deflationary pressures.

Despite these challenges, China managed a GDP growth of 2.2 percent in 2020, outperforming the United States and the global economy, which both retracted. While this growth is a shadow of China’s vibrant pre-pandemic expansion, it underscores a stark contrast to the rest of the world’s struggle.

The resilience of China’s export sector played a pivotal role in this economic endurance. According to Bert Hofman, a professor at the National University of Singapore’s East Asian Institute, China benefitted significantly from sustained demand for pandemic-related goods such as electronics and protective gear—products that are largely manufactured within its borders. Additionally, the Chinese government fortified this advantage by implementing robust support measures for its manufacturing sector, including preferential tax policies and incentives to attract foreign investments, thereby keeping the production wheels turning while many of its global competitors faltered.

Yet, this surge in exports has cast a shadow of controversy. Driven by internal deflation, China’s aggressive pricing strategies have sparked accusations of unfair competition, particularly as markets worldwide are flooded with inexpensive Chinese products like petrochemicals and steel. This practice has strained China’s trade relations, particularly with the United States and the European Union, igniting debates over economic fairness and market dominance.

In defense against these accusations, Chinese officials have staunchly rebutted claims of market overcapacity. Lin Jian, a spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, argued in a recent press conference that the narrative of Chinese economic aggression is a misconstruction fabricated by those who view China’s ascent with undue anxiety and skepticism. Jian suggested that these critiques are less about market realities and more about the West’s insecurities and persistent defamation of China’s economic strategies.

As the world grapples with the ongoing aftermath of the pandemic, China’s strategic exploitation of the crisis highlights a darker aspect of global economics—where resilience is often paired with rigorous assertions of power.

Editor’s Note: Most of the world suffered and lost productivity, is it an accident that China is taking up the slack?

https://www.newsweek.com/how-china-economy-benefitted-pandemic-1899114

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