China is the world’s second-largest economy, and its rapid growth is closing the gap with that of the United States, the globe’s leading economy.
China’s Communist rulers began market reforms in 1978, shifting from a centrally planned economy to a more market-based economy. That unleashed an explosion of growth, with gross domestic product reportedly expanding at an average of nearly 10% for a number of years — the fastest sustained expansion by a major economy in history. The surge helped 850 million people lift themselves out of poverty, according to the World Bank.
While China’s 1.4 billion people have made impressive economic and development gains, the country’s market reforms are judged “incomplete” by economists. Its income per person remains that of a developing nation, and less than one-quarter of the average for Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) nations.
China’s rapid growth brought challenges, including income inequality between urban and rural areas, environmental problems such as air pollution, and external imbalances that spark friction with trading partners, including the United States. China also faces challenges related to an aging population.
China’s government has set 6.5% annual expansion as its growth target. That would be very fast for most nations, but slow by recent Chinese standards.
The International Monetary Fund predicts 6.2% economic growth for China in 2019.