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English>>China Business

Outlook not that pessimistic

By Zhang Xiaojing (China Daily)

15:18, August 06, 2012

A new round of reform is needed to inject vitality into the Chinese economy and make its growth sustainable

China's declining economic growth rate has been discussed at different forums at length. Some scholars argue that China has exhausted all its advantages in demographic dividend, globalization and reform, and therefore the decline is unavoidable. There is nearly a consensus that China's economy will slow down, and the debate is mainly on the actual rate of growth.

We should respect the economics cycle and not harbor the illusion of registering further double-digit growth. Our research shows that the fast-growing economies, with the sole exception of Taiwan, registered a drop in their growth rates in the fourth decade of their economic development.

But at the same time, we should not be pessimistic about slower growth. China's economic growth is not destined to drop. A relatively strong growth for another decade or even longer can be realized if China can push forward its reform and innovation plan, build up human resources and participate in global governance.

Some economists have forecast that China's demographic dividend, which means a high percentage of working-age population, will end in 2015. The sixth population census shows that China's population growth is much slower than what the policymakers had expected, and the drop in the number of children and increase in the number of senior citizens have been beyond expectations too.

Australian economists Rodney Tyers and Jane Golley, however, say, China's demographic dividend can last until 2030 if the actual working population, instead of the working-age population, is calculated. The number of workers will increase by including workers from the traditionally non-working age group. For example, extending the retirement age can turn non-working-age people into workers.

Besides, thanks to the development in China's education sector the number of skilled, well-educated workers is increasing. This will offset the negative impact of the declining working-age population and prepare China for a knowledge-based economy.

It is true that China is losing its traditional advantage of exporting products at low costs. For three decades, China's economy relied heavily on exports to the United States and European countries by taking advantage of its cheap labor. But with the return of protectionism to the world stage after the global financial crisis, China may lose the benefits it has gained from globalization.

China, nonetheless, can gain new benefits by helping devise the rules of globalization, mainly in the areas of financial regulation, international monetary policy reform, developmental issues, security and energy.

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