Since initiating market reforms in 1978, China has shifted from a centrally-planned to a market-based economy and has experienced rapid economic and social development. GDP growth has averaged nearly 10 percent a year—the fastest sustained expansion by a major economy in history—and has lifted more than 800 million people out of poverty. China reached all the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015 and made a major contribution to the achievement of the MDGs globally. Although China’s GDP growth has gradually showed since 2012, it is still impressive by current global standards.
With a population of 1.3 billion, China is the second largest economy and is increasingly playing an important China has been the largest contributor to world growth since the global financial crisis of 2008.
Rapid economic ascendance has brought on many challenges as well, including high inequality; rapid urbanization; challenges to environmental sustainability; and external imbalances. China also faces demographic pressures related to an aging population and the internal migration of labor. Significant policy adjustments are required in order for China’s growth to be sustainable. Experience shows that transitioning from middle-income to high-income status can be more difficult than moving up from low to middle income.
China’s 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-2015) and the newly approved 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-2020) forcefully address these issues. They highlight the development of services and measures to address environmental and social imbalances, setting targets to reduce pollution, to increase energy efficiency, to improve access to education and healthcare, and to expand social protection. The annual growth target in the 12th Five-Year Plan was 7 percent and the growth target in the 13th Five-Year Plan is 6.5 percent, reflecting the rebalancing of the economy and the focus on the quality of growth while still maintaining the objective of achieving a “moderately prosperous society” by 2020 (doubling GDP for 2010-2020).
For more information on China, please refer to http://data.un.org/CountryProfile.aspx?crName=china and http://www.worldbank.org/en/country/china/overview