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Today, most people know of China as being the world’s most populous nation, one of the world’s top economic superpowers, and that place where iPhones and iPads are made. Of course, there’s a lot more to a country with such a rich and storied history such as China than just what it is today. The story of how China became one of the world’s economic top dogs is interesting in and of itself, and it’ll tell you that China is no stranger to being king of the hill in that respect. So, let’s take a few quick slices from that pie and look at 3 quick and interest facts about China’s economic history.
In 1820, China had the world’s largest economy. During this time and as ruled by the Qing dynasty, China had the largest share of the global GDP. Part of this may be attributed to trade between China and Europe growing at an average rate of 4% between the 1719 and 1806, de-spite the complications brought about by the Qing dynasty’s isolationist inclinations and the effects thereof on international trade and foreign relations in general. The rigidity of the limitations imposed on foreign traders and their ability to trade legally eventually resulted in a number of negative effects over the following years, such as opium smuggling, the growth of the black market, and the increasing tensions and resulting conflicts between China and its international trading partners, which in turn led to the eventual collapse of the Qing dynasty and the loss of China’s status as a global economic leader of that era.
China is now the world’s de facto manufacturing hub for just about anything you can buy, from cheap goods to aspirational material luxuries – it is the world’s largest exporter of merchandise goods. According to the World Economic Forum, since the start of reforms in 1978 and based on data up until 2014, China’s GDP grew at a rate of nearly 10% each year. This has seen China lift about 800 million people out of poverty, something that no other nation has done. This also means that China accounted for over 75% of the global poverty reduction goal of halving extreme poverty, one of the UN millennium development goals.
According to the World Economic Forum’s Jonathan Eckart, by “2030 China is expected to be the world’s largest economy once again.” As China continues to develop and rebalance its economy and despite recent slowdowns in growth due to a number of domestic factors, it remains a key influencer of global economic performance. And soon – and rather unsurprisingly – it may retake the title of having the world’s largest economy.