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Key economic indicators of China - Statistics & Facts

Over the past half century, the economy of China has experienced enormous growth to become the world’s second largest economy based on nominal GDP. During this time, China’s economy transformed from a centrally organized system to an increasingly open market-oriented economy, following the stagnation of economic development led by the Cultural Revolution. As the fastest-growing major economy in the world, China has maintained an average economic growth rate of over six percent over the past 30 years, only recently starting to fall. Importantly, there are large disparities in economic development across the country’s different regions. In general, the economy of coastal provinces is better developed than that of inland provinces in the west. The GDP per capita of many Chinese provinces is lower than the average level in the world, which indicates that China is still a developing country.

China is the most populous country and holds the fastest-growing consumer market in the world. Compared to other emerging countries, China has held a lower inflation rate. China has the world’s largest foreign-exchange reserves worth over three trillion U.S. dollars. The exchange rates between yuan and key world currencies remain stable, without significant disturbances over the last two decades.

China’s economy has benefited from its large labor force for decades. Due to rising labor costs and trade tensions, many local manufacturers are experiencing a tough winter. However, China is still the world’s largest manufacturing economy in which most of the labor force is involved and with well-developed supply chains and logistics operations.

Based on statistics from the United Nations about foreign direct investment flows in 2018, China had the second largest inward foreign direct investment as well as the second largest outward foreign direct investment. A large share of the outward direct investment was used for overseas mergers and acquisitions. While developed countries received most of the investment from China, many emerging countries are also benefiting from this investment due to the Belt and Road Initiative.

As the world’s largest exporter and second largest importer, the merchandise trade balance of China amounted to a surplus of over 351 billion U.S. dollars in 2018. In the past, the United States used to be China’s largest trade partner, but under the influence of the trade war, trade between these two countries decreased, and in 2018 the European Union became China’s largest export destination instead. Around 17 percent of goods exported from China went to the European Union in 2018. As for services, China is a net importer.

Today, China is continuing to open its financial market. Foreign investors are facing less restrictions in China’s financial market. More foreign financial institutions are allowed to conduct business in mainland China. Besides Hong Kong, Shanghai is also becoming an essential financial center connecting foreign financial institutions to the domestic market. Along with the Hong Kong Stock Exchange, the Shanghai Stock Exchange and Shenzhen Stock Exchange in mainland China are important entry points to invest in China’s listed companies.

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Key economic indicators of China

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