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Politics & Law

How could the isolated post-pandemic China survive?


A cleaner is working in the empty departure hall at the Wuhan Tianhe Airport during the COVID -19 lockdown (photo from Caixing Global)

Both COVID-19 and political tensions will obstruct cross-border human traffic as well as civilian purchases in the coming, at least, two years.

Realistically speaking, for example, Chinese tourists will be much less welcome in the retail streets of the ANZ, Canada, the US and western European countries.

It is therefore definitely not a surprise to read a news report that a German chef said for his restaurant, “no Chinese wanted!!!” (DW May 14)

President Trump even threatened to cut off relations with China (Guardian May 15), after asking the American business to move the supply chains out of China. Some analysts say that the pandemic is accelerating the de-Globalization trend (Bloomberg Feb 29).

China is likely to be isolated to certain extent by the West, and on the other side China is also likely to buy less, say, handbags from Europe and less airplanes from the US. The domestic economic dynamics in each country will play a more important role in the post-pandemic recovery.

One important point we need to note is that China’s per capita GDP has just passed the USD10,000 level in nominal term, and also USD20,000 level in the Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) calculation.

Population and GDP per capita (US$)
China 1,433.7 mn GDP per capita $10,098, $20,984(PPP)

India 1,366.4 mn GDP per capita $ 2,171, $9,027(PPP)
ASEAN 654.3 mn GDP per capita $ 4,755, $13,918(PPP)
Latin Am 642.2 mn GDP per capita $10,193, $16,040(PPP)

EU 446.8 mn GDP per capita $35,623, $44,539(PPP)
US 329.1 mn GDP per capita $65,111, $67,426(PPP)

World 7,577.1 mn GDP per capita $11,355, $18,391(PPP)

***2019 Data sources from Wikipedia, quoted from IMF, World Bank, and the UN.

China’s per capita income is certainly far below the EU’s and US’ now. However, it has overtaken India, ASEAN and the Latin American Union respectively. With its huge size of domestic consumers and FX reserves, the chance for China to be able to live on its own for 2-3 years is not slim. The question is instead how severe the economic recession or even depression in other parts of the world may be.

If China could manage to maintain 0-1% growth while all others suffer from shrinkage, it mathematically implies that the gap between China and the West may narrow down in China’s favour.

The opinions expressed are those of the author, and not necessarily those of China Daily Mail.

About keith K C Hui

Keith K C Hui is a Chinese University of Hong Kong graduate major in Government and Public Administration and the author of "Helmsman Ruler: China's Pragmatic Version of Plato's Ideal Political Succession System In The Republic" (2013).

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