Chen Xian: China's Long-term Economic Growth Depends on Three Factors 2022-12-04

China's economy, like the global economy, is undergoing high uncertainty and huge pressure due to epidemic recurrence and worldwide turbulence. Moreover, short-term stress might lead to longer-term risks. Despite the grim situation, the author still firmly believes that the fundamentals of China's long-term economic improvement have not changed.

From the perspective of short-term and long-term analysis, the author believes that the short-term pressure on China's economy comes primarily from the impact of epidemic recurrence on the economy and people's livelihood, demand contraction, especially the contraction of consumer demand, and the weakened expectations, which may continue for a longer period. In particular, it should be noted that under the combined effect of relevant policies and the above-mentioned pressures, the real estate industry is deeply trappedand has become the primary driver of the current economic downturn.

In the short term, the crucial factor of economic pressure is consumption. The consumption demand of residents is directly affected by the epidemic and the weakened expectations. Data on the three components of aggregate demand in the first three quarters indicate that final consumption was quite sluggish and capital formation was relatively weak while net exports got an eye-catching performance. The determinants of short-term economic fluctuations are different from those of medium- and long-term development trends. The current economic fluctuations are a combination of the epidemic impact, as a special factor, and the conventional supply and demand shock. The situation is indeed complicated and it is hard to predict the future economic trajectory. Medium- and long-term economic development mainly depends on the growth momentum and also the development environment.

Why does China's economy remain positive in the long run? The most common view among economists is that China's economy has its unique resilience, i.e., more resistance to risk and volatility; and that China has the institutional advantage in organizing and mobilizing resources, enabling it to concentrate its efforts on major issues. Some scholars have found that super-sized economies have unique advantages in demand and innovation. Other research findings suggest that the Chinese cultural tradition of thrift and hard work has accumulated as the original driving force for economic growth.

Looking at China's economic development in recent years, the author believes that the following three factors play a very important role in the long-term economic upturn of China. First, since the introduction of supply-side structural reform, the new normal of economic development, and the advocacy of "widespread entrepreneurship and innovation," China has laid more emphasis on innovation-driven and emerging industry development than ever before. Second, after more than four decades of rapid industrialization and urbanization, provincial administrative areas in China are changing their economies to urban agglomerations and metropolitan economies led by central cities. Third, China has long-term political and social stability and a rare environment for development from a global perspective. Even in the context of the economic slowdown both at a global level and on the Chinese scale, the utilization of foreign direct investment in China maintains an increase by double digits. The most convincing indication is the 16.4% rise in foreign direct investment from January to August of this year.

There is definitely a contradiction between short-term economic pressure and long-term growth, but no fundamental conflict. As mentioned above, the factors determining short-term fluctuations and long-term growth and development of the economy are different, which means different policies and measures are required to solve short-term and long-term problems. Entrepreneurs' confidence and actions play a key role in resisting economic downward pressure and maximizing long-term positive effects. The whole society should create a better business environment for start-ups and entrepreneurs to unleash their wisdom and energy, thus contributing to the sustainable and healthy growth and development of China's economy.