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China May Be Facing Economic Slowdown

Behind a billboard, construction takes place in Beijing, but estimates of China's economic growth are shrinking.
Experts: China May be Facing Economic Problems
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From VOA Learning English, this is the Economics Report.

China’s economy is growing slowly after years of strong gains. Some China watchers in the United States say the Chinese economy is slowing to a halt. They use the word stagnating. They say stagnation is a real threat unless new reforms can bring big changes to the Chinese economic system.

How the economic stagnation could affect the United States has caught the attention of some U.S. policy makers.

Matt Salmon of Arizona is a member of the House of Representatives. At a recent congressional hearing, he said China’s “quest for development and global influence has come at a high cost of alienating partners and allies alike. There are cracks in the foundation, and imbalances remain politically, economically and militarily.”

Chinese government statistics show China’s economy grew at its slowest rate in 24 years in 2014. The growth rate was under eight percent, compared to rates of 10 percent or more a few years ago.

The International Monetary Fund has predicted that China’s gross domestic product will grow at a yearly rate of 5.9 percent over the next six years. The GDP is a measure of the size of an economy.

Derek Scissors is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, DC. He said China’s economic slowdown is “not avoidable.” He said the problem is more than 10 years old.

He said the economy started slowing down in 2003. At that time, “the government under Hu Jintao pushed aside market reforms in favor of public investment, directing the finance by the state largely through state owned enterprises.”

“From 2003 to 2008, the Chinese economy was getting bigger and getting less healthy,” he said. The following year, it started to show signs of stagnation.

At the congressional hearing, another House member asked whether the stagnation will lead to a collapse.

Derek Scissors said he does not believe stagnation will lead to China’s collapse. He also said a slowing of the economy does not mean China has lost its significance in the world. He said, “The mixed economy that China has doesn’t lend itself (to) acute economic crisis.” He added that the country can stay in the same state a long time without major changes.

Jerome Cohen is a professor at New York University. He said China is facing problems. But, he said the U.S. should not underestimate the imagination and dynamism of Chinese leaders in meeting international economic problems. He said one example of this is the new Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank and related organizations.

Mr. Cohen added that many authoritarian governments were able to continue steady economic growth. He said China is no exception. But he added, “The very economic progress leads to the kind of ferment that we are beginning to witness in China.”

And that’s the Economics Report. I’m Mario Ritter.

Yang Chen reported this story. Mario Ritter adapted it for VOA Learning English. George Grow was the editor.


Words in This Story

stagnating – adj. slowing down to a halt, not moving

statistics – n. numbers that represent information about people, industry, science or other objects of study

significance – n. the quality of being important or of being meaningful

authoritarian – adj. not permitting dissent

ferment – n. being in a state of excitement and confusion caused by change

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