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China’s Shocking Economic Crisis: Is It About to Collapse or Make a Miraculous Comeback?

China's Shocking Economic Crisis

Discover the shocking truths about China’s economic crisis and its potential for a stunning comeback. Explore the challenges it faces, from youth unemployment to mounting debt, and find out what experts are saying about the world’s second-largest economy’s uncertain future.

The available high-frequency data from Beijing has provided substantial evidence that the world’s second-largest economy is currently experiencing a slowdown. However, economists and financial experts remain divided on whether China can mount a comeback in light of several growing challenges, including a sharp rise in youth unemployment, mounting debt levels, and a slowdown in domestic consumption. Despite these concerns, China has a track record of resilience, which has led some China watchers to believe in its ability to overcome its current difficulties.

Kishore Mahbubani, former President of the UNSC, emphasized, “Never underestimate China’s ability to make a comeback.” He shared this sentiment during an interview with India Today. IMF’s Deputy Managing Director Gita Gopinath also believes that China has the capacity to “turn things around,” despite acknowledging the recent economic deceleration.

China’s economic woes are exacerbated by issues in its real estate sector, which accounts for nearly 30 per cent of its GDP, according to CaixaBank Research. The bankruptcy of Evergrande Group, the second-largest real estate firm in China, and the precarious situation of its largest firm, Country Garden, have added to the economic challenges.

Youth unemployment, particularly among those aged 16-24, has surged to historic highs, reaching almost 21 per cent in July, and some estimates suggest it could be as high as 50 per cent. This economic slowdown has created a cycle of uncertainty, with people saving more due to concerns about future income, leading to reduced consumption, which, in turn, has caused firms to scale back their investment and capacity expansion due to lower demand.

Gopinath remains optimistic about China’s potential to recover, stating, “China has the resources to turn things around, with room for fiscal and monetary policy adjustments.” However, she cautions that these changes will not yield immediate results. In the short term, the IMF anticipates China’s growth to meet the government’s target of 5 per cent, but in the medium term, growth is projected to stabilize around 3.4 per cent.

With its GDP exceeding $19 trillion, China is the second-largest economy globally, trailing only the United States. Questions have arisen regarding whether China’s economy has reached a point where a gradual decline in growth is inevitable. Gopinath argues that it goes beyond this, with the IMF revising its projections in light of recent developments.

Regarding the possibility of China surpassing the United States, which has a GDP of nearly $27 trillion, Gopinath believes it depends on China’s policy measures. She notes that challenges in the private sector, waning confidence, and reduced global demand for manufactured goods pose significant headwinds for China.

Furthermore, geopolitical tensions have led to import restrictions and shifts in foreign direct investment (FDI) patterns, driven more by geopolitical considerations than geographical proximity. The U.S., under President Joe Biden, has imposed increased tariffs on Chinese imports and prohibited new U.S. investments in sensitive technology sectors in China, reflecting the growing tensions between the two nations over issues like Ukraine and Taiwan, a key semiconductor hub.

China also faces a demographic challenge, with a declining workforce. American economist and Nobel laureate Paul Krugman has drawn parallels between China’s current situation and Japan’s in 1990, highlighting concerns about a potential “middle-income trap” that could hinder China’s continued economic growth.

In summary, China’s economy is grappling with a range of challenges, but there are differing opinions on its potential to rebound. Its ability to address these issues and adapt to changing global dynamics will play a crucial role in determining its future economic trajectory.

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