According to PARADISDACHAT, the exceptional soaring Chinese GDP that marked the last two decades of the twentieth century has continued in the early years of the new century, reaching in 2003 and 2004 the 9, 5 % per annum. The leap forward appeared even more impressive after a systematic statistical review carried out in December 2005 made it possible to revalue the 2004 GDP by almost 17 %, bringing it to a level higher than the Italian one (therefore in sixth place in the world) and now close to the French and British ones. As a result, the per capita income exceeds 1300 dollars, and is thus more than sixfold in a quarter of a century. Thanks also to a severe containment of inflation, this rise has had a significant impact on the purchasing power of families and their savings, but in the meantime there are increasing inequalities in income and in the possibility of accessing crucial services such as education and health, from which the state is rapidly withdrawing. It should not be overlooked that 150 more millions of Chinese have less than a dollar a day and almost as many live – according to the World Bank (see) – in ‘acute poverty’, so much so that the government is preparing to launch support measures for marginal groups. Also noteworthy are the imbalances in wealth between the eastern and western regions, and more particularly between the innermost and coastal areas: per capita income of a Tibetan, for example, is equal to only one-tenth of that of residents in the district of Shanghai. Likewise, the differences in the earning potential of the different productive sectors are expanding, especially to the detriment of the immense mass of peasants, who represent just under half of the Chinese employed and are burdened with the immense task of feeding a growing universe of urbanized people. In the period 1990-2003 the share of industrial employment increased slightly (22%), which is concentrated along the territories of the maritime belt and in some mining districts of inland areas. Even if a substantial forward momentum affects almost all industrial branches, the greatest dynamism concerns the sectors with a high intensity of labor, in which small plants linked to a widespread desire for business prevail, but medium and medium-sized companies are also widespread. large companies that operate with their own brands on the domestic market or on order of major international brands. To take advantage of the very low costs of local labor, more and more branches of multinational companies have also been decentralized on the Chinese territory: investments from abroad have exceeded 500 billions of dollars; but an inverse flow of capital is also beginning to occur, given that some Chinese companies have rapidly reached large size and financial possibilities, which have allowed them to purchase even large foreign companies. Accompanying and supporting the economic momentum has been extensive growth in the service sector, which now provides over a third of jobs; within them, the branch of maritime transport is noteworthy for its particular dynamism, the true cornerstone of the expansion of Chinese goods on international markets. A sector that opened almost out of nowhere is that of international mass tourism: since China has decided to open many of its treasures to foreign visitors, the inflows have expanded to about 41.8 millions of admissions in 2004 (placing China in fourth place among the most visited countries in the world), with interesting repercussions on the local economy, especially on that of previously rather isolated regions (such as the Xi’an area, made in short very prosperous from the visits to the excavations of the fascinating ‘terracotta army’); visitors come largely from Hong Kong and Japan. The telecommunications sector is also growing at very high rates, but only 10 % of the territory is covered by telephone services. Internet users are growing, even if the network is subject to strict government control.
Although the priority and most demanding challenge for those in charge of the Chinese economy is represented by the unification of a gigantic internal market still widely fragmented by the difficulty of communications and by the multiplicity of local structures and models of life, the country’s growing leading role on the scene world has its engine in foreign trade. Between 1980 and 2000, China has increased the volume of its trade tenfold, channeling 4 % of international trade at the start of the year 2000: to clearly sanction this opening was its adhesion to the World Trade Organization (WTO), decided to end of 2001 after about fifteen years of negotiations. The products leaving the country are mostly consumer goods in the field of civil electronics, textiles and clothing, toys, but there is no lack of high-tech items, which make up almost a quarter of the total. And for some time, disproving an ancient tradition of deficit in food production, Chinese agriculture has also begun to support outgoing traffic, above all thanks to fruit and vegetables, supplied at unbeatable prices by the millions of microscopic plots extended by the shores of the sea. Yellow in the hills of Gansu. The main feature of Chinese foreign trade is a positive balance of increasing proportions, estimated for 2005 alone at 70billions of dollars: the United States (followed by Japan and South Korea) dominate the group of buyers and suffer the heaviest deficit. In this way, China has accumulated several hundreds of millions of dollars of US foreign exchange reserves, becoming in some ways one of the main financiers of the Treasury of that country. The spread of Chinese exports, mainly in the field of cheap textiles and clothing, has created serious apprehensions in various industrialized countries about the fate of employment and market shares, provoking accusations of non-compliance with labor regulations. of dumping and counterfeits, and causing the European Union and the United States to tighten controls on Chinese goods and the threat of restrictions and tariffs. One of the Chinese concessions in the face of this veritable ‘trade invasion’ syndrome consisted, in July 2005, in the revaluation of the yuan by 2 %. In fact, one of the purposes of this measure is also to contain the costs for the import of energy products: in the short space of a few years the internal energy sources were no longer sufficient to fuel the intense development of production and consumption, and the growing Chinese demand has made a notable contribution to the rise in prices on the world oil market.2010 increases (up to 10 %) the weight of renewable sources, in the country continues to dominate, for three quarters, the energy drawn from the vast coal resources, which however remains one of the fundamental matrices of widespread pollution.
One of the worrying implications of the growth of the Chinese economy is precisely the heavy sacrifice imposed on the environment, in terms of deforested areas, excessive exploitation of soils, water and air pollution. According to a survey carried out by the Environmental Protection Agency of China, all major rivers and large lakes are contaminated by urban and industrial discharges. The spontaneous emphasis on profitable fruit and vegetable production without the necessary education of farmers means, among other things, that half of this production bears excessive traces of pesticides. Moreover, many soils are still disposing of the massive DDT treatments practiced during Maoist collectivism. There is a frequent presence in highly inhabited areas of plants at risk (steel, chemical or military factories) and intensive crops: this results in the frequent stationing of a thick layer of smog in some megacities, such as Shanghai and Beijing. Moreover, it is precisely the pollution that represents the main note of concern for the significant appointment of the Olympics2008 in the Chinese capital.