Senseless cacophony (LIU RUI/Global Times)
Data for all major economies for the second quarter of 2023 is now published, making possible a systematic comparison of China's economic performance to all other major countries. This reveals two key facts. First, since the beginning of the pandemic, China has outperformed every other major economy - in most cases by huge margins. Second, the U.S. has launched a flat-out propaganda campaign in an attempt to conceal this fact.
Therefore, two key questions need answering. First, what are the factual trends in the world economy? Second, why has the U.S. decided to launch a systematic campaign of falsification?
China's growth compared to other major economies
Starting with the facts, covering the period of the pandemic and its aftermath, in the last four years, up to the latest available data for the second quarter of 2023, China's economy grew by a total of 19.2 percent. Among the major advanced economies, the G7, U.S. growth was 7.5 percent, and Canada's was 4.7 percent. Italy's growth was 1.5 percent, France's 1.3 percent, Japan's 0.8 percent, Germany's 0.5 percent and the UK's 0.3 percent.
China's economy grew more than two and a half times as fast as the U.S.', four times as fast as Canada's, 13 times as fast as Italy's, 15 times as fast as France's, 24 times as fast as Japan's, 38 times as fast as Germany's and 64 times as fast as the UK's economy.
In short, China outgrew all the major advanced economies by enormous margins.
To complete the picture, as striking as the above data is, it significantly understates China's outperformance of other economies in productivity growth and living standards. To analyze these, it is necessary to consider per capita growth, ie, including population changes.
China's annual average population increase since 2019 has been only 0.1 percent, meaning it received no boost to total GDP growth from population changes. In contrast, major G7 and BRICS economies have had large population increases - from domestic increases, immigration, or both. Since 2019, Canada's annual average population increase was 1.2 percent, India's 0.8 percent, and the U.S.' 0.5 percent.
China's outperformance of other major economies is therefore even greater as measured by per capita GDP growth. To take even the most rapidly growing other economies, China's 4.4 percent annual per capita GDP increase compares to 2.5 percent in India and 1.3 percent in the U.S. India's per capita GDP growth was only 56 percent of China's and China's per capita GDP grew more than three times as fast as that of the U.S.
Per capita data therefore demonstrates even more strongly China's great outperformance of any other major economy - not only in terms of total growth but also in productivity and ability to increase its citizens' wellbeing.
As the facts show China outperforms every other major economy, not by small amounts but by huge margins, any objective discussion of the international economic situation would discuss questions such as "Why is China's economy growing so much faster than all the other major economies?"
However, for the U.S. to admit the facts of the global economy is impossible. This would be to acknowledge that it is being vastly outperformed by another economy, even worse demonstrating the superiority of socialism to capitalism. Therefore, the U.S. has launched a systematic campaign denying reality and facts.
At the top of the U.S. political pyramid, lack of contact with reality has now reached a bizarre level. President Biden, for example, recently claimed that China's economic growth is "around 2 percent" when it was 5.5 percent in the first half of this year. He stated that in China "the number of people who are of retirement age is larger than the number of people of working age," which is completely false. This figure which he has claimed to be true is off by hundreds of millions. He claimed that China's economy is a "ticking time bomb" - when it is the U.S., not China which this year suffered two of the three biggest bank collapses in its history.
The U.S. campaign of economic 'fake news'
Alongside declarations by political figures, U.S. media such as the New York Times, are running articles with titles such as "How do we Manage China's Decline?" - in a situation where China's economy is growing two and a half times as fast as the U.S. and China's per capita GDP is growing three times as fast as the U.S.!
The method of totally ignoring facts and reality is classically known as the "big lie" - the "big lie" being an accurate description of the methods used by Goebbels, even though he did not invent the phrase. This calculates that if a lie is repeatedly stated by powerful media or state apparatuses then, despite the fact it is a lie, large numbers of people may come to believe it is true simply due to the number of times it is repeated and the number of media outlets in which it appears.
What are the aims of the U.S. in spreading these lies? Some are obvious - to try to discourage foreign companies from investing in China and try to spread demoralizing rumors. But there is another more profound and dangerous purpose.
Facts make clear China's economy is far outperforming the U.S. At the 20th CPC National Congress, the goal was set as reaching the level of a "medium-developed country by 2035." In 2020's discussion around the 14th Five Year Plan, it was concluded that by 2035 for China: "It is completely possible to double the total or per capita income."
In contrast, the long-term average annual U.S. growth is only two percent. These relative growth rates mean that by 2035 China's economy would increase in size by 100 percent and the U.S. by only 35 percent. As the U.S. sees international relations as a zero-sum game, in which its goal is to retain its dominance, such relative growth rates are regarded as a disaster. The U.S. sees it as crucial to slow down China and prevent it from achieving its 2035 goals.
The data already given makes clear how this could be achieved. The much slower growth of the economies of the West compared to China means that if China could be moved to a Western capitalist model, with a far higher percentage of consumption in GDP, then China's economy would grow no faster than any other Western economy. As increases in consumption and living standards are extremely closely related to economic growth, if China's economy could be slowed in that way, then China's living standards would also be lower than its targets.
But for the U.S. to openly present an argument that "China should slow to the growth rate of a Western economy" is impossible - no one would take such a damaging proposal seriously. So, instead, the U.S. must attempt to conceal the real situation - to make the fraudulent claim China is growing more slowly than Western economies. If that lie could be believed, then an argument could be presented that China should move toward a Western model - so that its economy could supposedly grow more rapidly. To give credibility to that claim, however, the lie must first be believed that the Western economies are outgrowing China. That is why false information must be spread.
Consequently, the reality that China is far outperforming the Western economies, while entirely true must not lead to complacency. The U.S. is attempting to damage China via the international campaign of falsifications already outlined. The slow growth of Western economies itself creates problems for China - a negative international economic situation means China must rely entirely on increasing domestic demand to achieve its 2035 goals. To this latter well-known issue, the present author would add some others. In particular close attention must be paid to increasing profits - which are no higher than five years ago.
But to accurately address these real issues in China's economic development, first the facts must be established - that China's economy is far outgrowing all the others.
The author is a senior fellow at Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies, Renmin University of China.