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China Economy Information

In late 1978 the Chinese leadership began moving the economy from a sluggish, Soviet-style centrally planned economy to a more market-oriented system.

Whereas the system operates within a political framework of strict Communist control, the economic influence of non-state organizations and individual citizens has been steadily increasing. The authorities switched to a system of household and village responsibility in agriculture in place of the old collectivization, increased the authority of local officials and plant managers in industry, permitted a wide variety of small-scale enterprises in services and light manufacturing, and opened the economy to increased foreign trade and investment.

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The result has been a quadrupling of GDP since 1978. In 2013, with its 1.3 billion people but a GDP of just $7,590 per capita, China stood as the second-largest economy in the world after the US (measured on a purchasing power parity basis).

Agriculture and industry have posted major gains, especially in coastal areas near Hong Kong and opposite Taiwan, where foreign investment has helped spur output of both domestic and export goods. The leadership, however, often has experienced - as a result of its hybrid system - the worst results of socialism (bureaucracy and lassitude) and of capitalism (windfall gains and growing income disparities). China thus has periodically backtracked, retightening central controls at intervals. The government has struggled to (a) collect revenues due from provinces, businesses, and individuals; (b) reduce corruption and other economic crimes; and (c) keep afloat the large state-owned enterprises, many of which had been shielded from competition by subsidies and had been losing the ability to pay full wages and pensions. From 80 to 120 million surplus rural workers are adrift between the villages and the cities, many subsisting through part-time low-paying jobs. Popular resistance, changes in central policy, and loss of authority by rural cadres have weakened China's population control program, which is essential to maintaining long-term growth in living standards. Another long-term threat to growth is the deterioration in the environment, notably air pollution, soil erosion, and the steady fall of the water table especially in the north. China continues to lose arable land because of erosion and economic development. Beijing says it will intensify efforts to stimulate growth through spending on infrastructure - such as water control and power grids - and poverty relief and through rural tax reform aimed at eliminating arbitrary local levies on farmers. Accession to the World Trade Organization helps strengthen China's ability to maintain strong growth rates but at the same time puts additional pressure on the hybrid system of strong political controls and growing market influences. China has benefited from a huge expansion in computer internet use. Foreign investment remains a strong element in China's remarkable economic growth.

China Economy Facts

purchasing power parity - $10.35 trillion (World Bank Data, 2014)
GDP - real growth rate:
7.3% (World Bank Data, 2014)
GDP - per capita:
purchasing power parity - $7,590 (World Bank Data, 2014)
GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 8.9%
industry and construction: 42.7%
services: 48.4% (CIA World Factbook, 2015 est.)
Population below poverty line:
6.1% (CIA World Factbook, 2013 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: 1.7%
highest 10%: 30% 
(CIA World Factbook, 2009, data applicable to urban households only)
Distribution of family income - Gini index:
46.9 (CIA World Factbook, 2014 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
1.4% (World Bank Data, 2015)
Labor force:
806 million (World Bank Data, 2014)
Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture 33.6%, industry 30.3%, services 36.1% (CIA World Factbook, 2012 est.)
Unemployment rate:
4.7% (World Bank Data, 2014)
revenues: $2.426 trillion
expenditures: $2.718 trillion 
(CIA World Factbook, 2015 est.)
mining and ore processing, iron, steel, aluminum, and other metals, coal; machine building; armaments; textiles and apparel; petroleum; cement; chemicals; fertilizers; consumer products (including footwear, toys, and electronics); food processing; transportation equipment, including automobiles, rail cars and locomotives, ships, aircraft; telecommunications equipment, commercial space launch vehicles, satellites
Industrial production growth rate:
7% (CIA World Factbook, 2015 est.)
Electricity - production:
5.65 trillion kWh (CIA World Factbook, 2014)
Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 67.3% 
hydro: 22.2%
other: 9%
nuclear: 1.5% 
(CIA World Factbook, 2014 est.)
Electricity - consumption:
5.523 trillion kWh (CIA World Factbook, 2014)
Electricity - exports:
18.16 billion kWh (CIA World Factbook, 2014)
Electricity - imports:
6.75 billion kWh (CIA World Factbook, 2014)
Oil - production:
CRUDE: 4.189 million bbl/day (CIA World Factbook, 2014 est.)
REFINED: 9.879 million bbl/day 
(CIA World Factbook, 2012 est.)
Oil - consumption:
REFINED: 10.48 million bbl/day (CIA World Factbook, 2013 est.)
Oil - exports:
12,000 bbl/day (CIA World Factbook, 2014 est.)
Oil - imports:
6.167 million bbl/day (CIA World Factbook, 2014 est.)
Oil - proved reserves:
24.65 billion bbl (CIA World Factbook, Jan 2015 est.)
Natural gas - production:
121.5 billion cu m (CIA World Factbook, 2014 est.)
Natural gas - consumption:
180.4 billion cu m (CIA World Factbook, 2014 est.)
Natural gas - exports:
2.603 billion cu m (CIA World Factbook, 2014 est.)
Natural gas - imports:
59.7 billion cu m (CIA World Factbook, 2014 est.)
Natural gas - proved reserves:
3.3 trillion cu m (CIA World Factbook, Jan 2015 est.)
Agriculture - products:
rice, wheat, potatoes, corn, peanuts, tea, millet, barley, apples, cotton, oilseed, pork, fish
$2.27 trillion (CIA World Factbook, 2015 est.)
Exports - commodities:
electrical and other machinery, including data processing equipment, apparel, furniture, textiles, integrated circuits
Exports - partners:
US 21.5%, Hong Kong 18%, Japan 14.9%, South Korea 4.8% (2002)
$295.3 billion f.o.b. (2002 est.)
Imports - commodities:
machinery and equipment, mineral fuels, plastics, iron and steel, chemicals
Imports - partners:
US 16.9%, Hong Kong 15.5%, Japan 6.4%, South Korea 4.3% (CIA World Factbook, 2014 est.)
Debt - external:
$949.6 billion (CIA World Factbook, 2014 est.)
Economic aid - recipient:
yuan (CNY)
note:: also referred to as the Renminbi (RMB)
Currency code:
Exchange rates:
yuan per US dollar - 6.243 (2015), 6.1434 (2014), 6.1958 (2013), 6.3123 (2012), 6.4615 (2011) (CIA World Factbook)
Fiscal year:
calendar year

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