Op-ed: Chinese economy reshaped by decade of phenomenal development

The following is an op-ed by the Chinese embassy in Maldives.


China's economic landscape has been reshaped over the past decade. From higher incomes to carbon-conscious policies to wider opening-up, phenomenal progress has been achieved in the country.

China's gross domestic product (GDP) crossed the 100-trillion-yuan (about 14.33 trillion U.S. dollars) threshold in 2020, a new milestone for the world's second largest economy. The figure further expanded to over 114 trillion yuan in 2021, contributing over 30 percent to world economic growth.

Back in 2012, its GDP stood at around 53.86 trillion yuan, accounting for about 11.5 percent of the global total.

Sustained economic expansion has brought about encouraging improvements at home: people have more money in hand, and growth has been guided toward a path that features green development and high-level opening-up.


China had made historic advances in people's quality of life over the past decade, with visible changes seen in various aspects.

In 2021, China declared the elimination of absolute poverty, having lifted nearly 100 million rural poor out of poverty over the previous eight years.

Supported by rapid growth, Chinese people have become more affluent. Official data showed that per capita disposable income in the country hit 35,128 yuan in 2021, more than double the level in 2012.

Higher incomes have shored up the rise of the middle-income group, with China now boasting over 400 million middle-income earners, compared with the 2010 level of over 100 million.

People's health has been made a policy priority. Over the past decade, the world's most populous country has continued to press ahead with medical and healthcare system reform, seeking to provide affordable and quality medical services for the public.

So far, China has managed several instances of centralized bulk-buying of drugs and high-value medical consumables, helping people slash a total of 300 billion yuan off their medical bills.


In 2020, China announced that it will peak carbon dioxide emissions by 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2060, a move that has won wide recognition in the international community.

Domestically, across-the-board improvements in the environment, as reflected in major air and water quality indicators, mirrored its consistent efforts to decarbonize the economy, tackle pollution and protect the natural ecosystem.

The low-carbon shift requires a higher share of renewables in energy structure. During the past 10 years, China has phased out coal used for heating in over 27 million rural households, while stepping up the development of installed renewable energy capacity. The country is top globally in its installed capacities of wind, photovoltaic, hydro and biomass power.

Aimed at spurring carbon-cutting endeavors, China launched a national carbon-trading market in July 2021, the world's largest in terms of the amount of greenhouse gas emissions covered.

Institutional innovation has also been achieved to protect and treasure the ecosystem. After introducing ecological "red lines" in 2017, China completed drawing up ecological conservation lines nationwide last year, demarcating no less than 25 percent of its land area for protection.

Thanks to its green drive, China has cut its carbon emission intensity by 34.4 percent over the past 10 years. Green has become a prominent color in economic and social development.


Uncertain and volatile as the world has been over the past decade, China has remained committed to pursuing high-level opening-up, building itself into a land of opportunity, while engaging more deeply in the global economy.

China's trade in goods and services totaled 6.9 trillion U.S. dollars in 2021, expanding from 4.4 trillion U.S. dollars in 2012 and securing the top position globally for two consecutive years.

Also expanding is its "friend circle." While cementing economic ties with traditional trading partners, the country has actively explored emerging markets in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Africa and beyond.

As a popular destination for foreign investment, China has held its appeal over the past decade with faster institutional opening-up at home.

The country's negative list for foreign investment has been shortened for five consecutive years since 2017, and laws and regulations, including the Foreign Investment Law, were put into force to step up protection for foreign investors.

Even in the pandemic-battered year of 2021, foreign direct investment in the Chinese mainland, in actual use, surpassed 1 trillion yuan for the first time. It marked the country's first double-digit growth in nearly a decade.

On top of that, China has also been active in setting up platforms to facilitate trade. Despite disruptions caused by the pandemic, multiple expos have been hosted, including the China International Import Expo, the China International Fair for Trade in Services, and the China International Consumer Products Expo.

Building on these hard-won achievements over the past decade, the country has set goals for the new development stage, and is poised to pen new stories of economic success.

China will strive to make new strides in economic development, with measures to take new steps in reform and opening-up, achieve new progress in building an ecological civilization, and boost the wellbeing of people, among others, according to the country's 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-2025).