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China highlights positive economic outlook in the face of ‘increasing East and decreasing West’ — Radio Free Asia

Beijing is responding to reports of increasing structural issues and economic challenges with state media articles emphasizing the positive long-term outlook as implemented measures begin to show results.

In a recent commentary published in the Chinese Communist Party mouthpiece Guangming Daily titled “Smearing the East won’t hinder its rise or prevent the decline of the West,” the argument was made that despite the United States’ share of the global GDP increasing in 2023 while China’s decreased, it does not signify a bleak economic future for China or a halt to the pattern of a “rising East and declining West.”

Zhang Yongjun, deputy chief economist of the China Center for International Economic Exchanges, highlighted that China’s 5.2% economic growth last year was more than double that of the U.S.’s 2.5%. Factors such as the Chinese currency depreciation against the dollar and falling prices compared to America’s inflation and stronger currency contributed to the contracted GDP contribution.

The Chinese economy is currently experiencing its slowest growth rate since 1990 when it expanded by 3.9%.

Entrepreneur Wang Ruiqin, and former member of the Qinghai Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), dismissed the article as “pure propaganda to garner support for the CCP.” Wang noted that Zhang’s China Center for International Economic Exchanges is affiliated with the National Development and Reform Commission and founded by former Vice Premier Zeng Peiyan, suggesting that Zhang Yongjun is likely an official disguised as a scholar.

The concept of a “rising East and declining West” was introduced by President Xi Jinping in 2021 amid significant global changes. However, questions arose when China shifted from its zero-COVID policy, resulting in economic turmoil, leading some to doubt the validity of the “declining West” theory.

China’s ruling Communist Party has praised President Xi Jinping as a Marxist thinker alongside intensive propaganda that promotes Xi’s personal image (Andy Wong/AP)

According to Xia Ming, a political science professor at the City University of New York, Mao Zedong also described a world where “the east wind prevails over the west wind” in the 1950s.

Xia believes that such political concepts have limitations in masking economic activities involving foreign capital in China or the outbound investments of Chinese companies abroad.

All about the economy

Economic issues are expected to take center stage during China’s upcoming parliamentary meetings. The Central Commission for Financial and Economic Affairs and the State Council executive meetings discussed new economic measures to boost demand for equipment, consumer goods, and stabilize foreign investments.

President Xi Jinping advocated for large-scale upgrades among Chinese firms and incentivizing consumers to trade-in old equipment to enhance domestic demand and overall development.

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Beijing wants Chinese consumers to replace their old home appliances to create demand for state manufacturers. (Thomas Peter/Reuters)

Cheng Cheng-Ping, a finance professor, sees the upgrade proposal as a response to deflation issues. He questions the sustainability of private firms amid Beijing’s focus on state enterprises.

American economist Cheng Xiaonong views the proposal as a desperate measure and criticizes using administrative orders to stimulate the economy. He points out the difference between the current upgrading wave and past measures implemented in China.

Premier Li Qiang emphasized the importance of maintaining a stable flow of foreign investment and addressing local debt problems at the State Council meeting.

Translated by RFA staff. Edited by Mike Firn and Taejun Kang.

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