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does China remain a developing country
By H.E. Fu Yuancong
Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the People's
Republic of China
the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste
I noticed recently that "China becoming the second largest economy" had been
media's hot topic worldwide. Statistics show that China's GDP has surpassed that
of Japan in the second quarter of this year, and China's gross economic volume
is expected to rank No. 2 in the world by the end of this year.
As a witness of and participant in China's 30-year-over reform and opening-up,
I feel very proud of the great success China has so far scored. Becoming the
second largest economy is a milestone, significant enough to reflect China's
progress in terms of economic development, market scale and overall strength.
This attributes to the persistent policy of reform and opening-up and concerted
efforts of all Chinese people. It proves that the development road chosen by
the Chinese people is a right one and accords with China's reality. Meanwhile,
we are sober-minded that China remains a developing country, with a long way
to go and tremendous tasks to fulfill, even if its GDP would become second largest
in the world. We know, it's not the moment for China to rest or celebrate. Why
Firstly, in terms of per capita GDP, China is still a low-income or middle-income
country. According to international practice, it can't be judged as a developed
country unless its per capita GDP exceeds USD 10000, that is to say, the title "developed country" is judged on the per capita basis rather than overall volume. As released by IMF in April 2010, China's per capita GDP of 2009 is USD 3677.89, ranking No. 97 in the world and on the low side of the low & middle
income interval. This figure only accounts for 8% of that of United States, 9%
of Germany and 9.2% of Japan.
Secondly, in terms of resource dispositions, China is a country of rather small
hold of resources on per capita basis, compared with even a moderately developed
country. China's per capita arable land is 1.4 mu (approximately 466.2 square
meters), per capita green area 7.9 square meters. The usage of freshwater by
a single Chinese is only 1/3 of the world average. As to consumption of energy,
it is much lower than the world average: per capita usage of coal is half of
the world average, and per capita usage of natural gas 1/5 of the world average.
The above-mentioned figures tell you how large the gap is between China and a
moderately developed country.
Thirdly, in terms of population structure, the proportion of rural and poverty-stricken
population is still huge. Among the 1.3 billion Chinese people, more than 700
million are living in rural area, almost equal to the population of Egypt. The
number of migrant rural labourers in cities is 150 million, almost equal to the
population of Russia. Based on UN's criteria (one dollar, one people, one day),
China has 150 million people living in 512 counties under poverty line. Even
according to the 2009 national low-income standard (RMB￥1,067 per year, nearly USD 159), there are still 43 million Chinese people counted as poverty-stricken population, a figure close to the population of Republic of Korea. Sadly enough, among the 43 million, 15 million are living below the absolute poverty line (RMB￥786
per year,nearly USD 117).
Fourthly, in terms of economic layout, China is faced with acute structural problems.
The first one is the structural imbalance of industries. The proportions of industry,
agriculture and service industry in GDP are 49%, 11% and 40%, which respectively
11 times, 2 times and 5/9 of those of a high income country. The second is the
imbalance between urban and rural areas. In 2008, the per capita disposable income
of urban households is 3.3 times of that of rural households. The third is the
imbalance among regions. The gross local production in China's eastern provinces
is 3 times of that of the western regions, while on per capita basis, the gap
is 2.3 times high.
Fifthly, in terms of trade structure, China is still in the very downstream of
the global industrial chain. Most of China's industries and enterprises are still
labor-intensive and resource-consumptive. Processing trade takes the lion's share
in China's imports and exports, yet China's independent system of manufacturing
industry stays fragmentary. China's self-owned brands with proprietary IPR are
not easy to find in the international market, less than 20% of export-oriented
enterprises possess self-owned brands with proprietary IPR. And 60%-70% of exported
products are manufactured by transnational corporations in China, which take
away most of the profits.
Sixthly, in terms of education, health care and social security, further improvement
and development is desperately needed in China's public welfare system, especially
in public education and social security. China's financial input into public
education only makes up 2.4% of its annual GDP, lower than the world average
of 4.9%. The per capita expenditure of health care just equals to 1/8 of the
world average. By 2008, there were 34.5 million recipients of subsistence allowances
in China's rural area, exceeding the population of Canada. There is an annual
increase of 12 million people who need to be offered job opportunities, overrunning
the population of Greek. The number of China's disabled people is around 83 million,
equal to the population of Germany.
Behind these abstract figures is a real China, a country with good development
momentum but numerous difficulties, a country just on the way to industrialization,
urbanization and modernization, a country still having a large gap to fill before
being developed. Just as Chinese President Hu Jintao put, "China is still world's
largest developing country, despite the universally recognized achievements in
its modernization drive over last 30 years' reform and opening-up. It is rarely
seen, by scale or complexity, the various kinds of conflicts and problems that
China is facing. We still have a long way to go, where we can build a well-off
society of higher level, modernize the whole country and achieve common prosperity
of all Chinese people."
Profound changes are taking place in world political and economic configuration,
and the international standing and influence of developing countries are rising.
As the world largest developing country, China is fully aware of its international
standing and level of development. China will continue to stay concentrated on
development. China always follows a path of peaceful development, and never seeks
hegemony, now or in the future. China's development poses no threat to anyone.
China's development requires a peaceful external environment and will boost world
peace and development in the final end. While striving for its own development,
China stands ready to bear international responsibilities and obligations in
conformity with its capabilities and developmental level, provide foreign assistance
to the best of its ability, so as to give full scope to the role of a responsible
power in action. The Chinese people would make concerted efforts with the people
of all countries, Timor-Leste included, to build a harmonious world of lasting
peace and common prosperity.
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