Yuwen Vision: Is China a Developed Country or a Developing Country?
Editor’s Note: This is an opinion piece written by Deng Yuwen for Voice of America. This guest commentary does not reflect the views of Voice of America. Reprinters please indicate that they are from Voice of America or VOA. The U.S. House of Representatives passed the “PRC Is Not A Developing Country Act” on March 27, on the grounds that China is already the world’s second largest economy, accounting for 18.6% of the global economy, and its economic scale is second only to the As for the US, since the US is considered a developed country, so should China. China criticized the United States for “having malicious intentions and thinking of ways to attack China.” The issue of China’s developmental identity has become a focus of a spat between China and Western countries in recent years. China has always insisted on its position as the world’s largest developing country, while the United States and other Western countries believe that China is undoubtedly a developed country. It cannot be said that the latter is unreasonable. Regardless of political motives, China does give the impression of being a “developed country”: domestic infrastructure construction is more luxurious and advanced than most recognized developed countries, and foreign aid has surpassed that of the United States in recent years. , The amount of money spent on the “Belt and Road” project is countless, and high-end international conferences have moved to China one after another… If you are not a developed country, how can you do it without strong financial support? Of course, the dispute over whether China is a developing country or a developed country has now been politicized, and it does not simply depend on objective facts. The United States has repeatedly accused China of pretending to be a developing country. As early as February 2020, it issued an ultimatum to the World Trade Organization (WTO), requiring the latter to disqualify a group of countries including China as developing countries within 90 days, accusing these countries of Abusing the relevant provisions of the WTO to obtain special treatment in global trade, and specifically named China. The House of Representatives passed the “China is not a developing country act” this time, requiring the US State Department to exert influence on international organizations to ensure that China cannot enjoy preferential treatment in the name of a developing country internationally. If China really becomes a developed country, whether in the WTO or in bilateral trade and other fields, the United States will require China to fulfill its obligations and responsibilities according to the conditions of a developed country. This is obviously not good for China. The geopolitical considerations of China’s clinging to the status of a developing country are unlikely to affect the recognition of China’s status by economic organizations and financial institutions such as the WTO and the World Bank. However, if it is signed by Biden, the United States can follow the standards of developed countries China imposes tariffs. But having said that, the high tariffs imposed by the United States on Chinese goods today have exceeded the standards of developed countries. So the bill is more of a symbolic meaning. However, China is unwilling to give up its status as a developing country. In addition to the consideration of economic benefits such as enjoying trade preferences, there are also geopolitical factors. It claims to be the largest developing country in the world and regards itself as the leader of developing countries. It is difficult for developed countries to speak on behalf of developing countries and get involved with countries such as Africa. However, China does not represent developing countries. In the competition with the West, especially the United States, it may not get their support, at least from the Support from developing countries will weaken. However, regardless of their respective calculations, whether China is a developed country or a developing country also depends on what angle and standard are used to measure it. The angles and standards are different, and the conclusions drawn are naturally very different. But that being said, the angle and criteria also depend on what the purpose is. When the United States “reported” China as a developed country to the WTO, it used the World Bank standard. The latter identified a country as a developed country with four indicators, namely high per capita income, OECD (Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development) membership, twenty The country is a member of the G20, and its exports account for 0.5% of global merchandise trade. As long as one of the four indicators meets one, it is a developed country. China has already accounted for two of the four indicators. For many years, its foreign trade volume has ranked first in the world, and it also belongs to the G20. Therefore, in the eyes of the United States, if China is not a developed country, most of the existing developed countries are also unqualified. However, the World Bank’s four identification indicators for developed countries are not rigorous. Except for per capita income, the other three are basically based on economic aggregates. Because the G20 was developed on the basis of the G7. After the global financial crisis in 2008, in order to cope with the crisis and better coordinate the relationship between developed countries and emerging countries, the United States led the formation of 20 relatively large economies in the world. A group that cooperates to fight the crisis together cannot classify India as a developed country. In addition, a large economic aggregate of a country certainly represents the growth of national strength, but it does not mean that it is strong or developed. This is basic common sense. Many countries are big but not strong, and China often warns itself like this. China does not recognize the standards proposed by the United States. Most Chinese people will not regard China as a developed country at all. The reason is that although China’s economy is the second largest in the world, its per capita income is still very low. I still remember what Li Keqiang revealed at the two sessions of the previous few years What if there are still 600 million people in China whose monthly income is less than 1,000 yuan? Therefore, at least the Chinese do not believe in insisting on labeling China as a developed country. The United States thinks highly of China, but China underestimates itself. If the United States thinks highly of China, the Chinese probably underestimate themselves. Let’s go back to the standards or conditions of developed countries. Except for the World Bank’s rough standards (strictly speaking, they are not standards), no authoritative organization has an authoritative definition and requirements for developed countries. WTO-related treaties divide member countries into three categories: developed economies, developing economies, and transition economies. However, developed countries are not identified separately. Although developing countries are identified, self-declaration methods can be adopted. The flaw of the method is that you can claim that you are a developing country, but whether to give you developing country treatment is determined by your trading partner, that is, the preferential granting country. Therefore, although the WTO recognizes China’s developing country status, the United States has never admit. Although there is no generally accepted definition and evaluation method for developed countries, countries that are considered developed countries in reality have also been recognized by everyone. Few people would disagree that they are not developed countries. This shows that in these countries, implicit Contains standards or conditions that people agree on, and they constitute the elements of a developed country. For example, when talking about developed countries, the first thing that comes to mind is high per capita income. The World Bank stipulates that the per capita GDP should reach US$13,205, which is the threshold for entering a developed country. Crossing this threshold does not necessarily mean that it is a developed country, but it is obviously not a developed country. In addition, indicators such as the level of industrialization, industrial structure, technological level, and degree of internationalization of the economy are commonly used. In people’s perception, developed countries generally have a high level of productivity, advanced industrial structure, the proportion of the tertiary industry is more than 60%, foreign trade occupies a large share of the total world trade, and there are many multinational companies, and the financial market is highly international. The market mechanism and market system are relatively sound. A developed economy and high per capita income are of course only one aspect of a developed country. Advanced education, good health, and a happy life are also the connotations of a developed country. The United Nations Development Program (UNDP) compiles a set of Human Development Index (HDI) to measure the development of a country. It is mainly based on the per capita GNP, per capita years of education and per capita life expectancy calculated based on purchasing power parity to obtain an HDI indicator, which ranges from 0 to 1, and if it exceeds 0.8, it is defined as a developed country. The index is now basically accepted by research institutions and scholars. The Human Development Index seems to be a comprehensive index, but it is better to use it as a single measurement standard. If I propose a way to evaluate developed countries, I will take per capita GDP, Human Development Index, industrialization level, infrastructure level, and technological level. And the economic structure and its degree of internationalization are put together to set a set of weights for comparison to see what level China is in. From the perspective of per capita GDP, China was close to 13,000 US dollars last year, approaching the lower limit of the per capita GDP standard of developed countries; from the perspective of human development index, China was 0.768 last year, ranking 79th, belonging to the second tier of “high human development index group”. The gap of 0.8 to enter the developed countries is still obvious. In terms of technology, according to the research of Chinese economists, although the overall strength is far from that of the United States and Europe, it is catching up quickly. Its patent applications, scientific journal articles, and unicorn numbers have surpassed or approached that of the United States. For example, in 2010, China surpassed the United States and Japan to become the country with the largest number of patent applications in the world. In 2016, China surpassed the United States to become the country with the largest number of scientific journal articles published in the world. In terms of the number of global unicorn companies last year, the United States ranked first with 242, followed by China with 119. Considering that science and technology is the key to national strength, China has made rapid progress in technology and technology industries, especially in the 5G and AI industries and the United States belongs to the first echelon, coupled with China’s advantages in infrastructure construction and complete industrial structure (the world The only country with a complete industrial system), strong manufacturing capacity, and foreign investment have also risen to the forefront of the world. It is not accurate to simply say that China is a developing country. Perhaps the correct statement is that China is neither a developing country nor a developed country, but is somewhere in between, close to the developed country side, and can be called a developing country with the characteristics of a developed country. Although it is still in the ranks of developing countries, it has already ranked among the top in the world in terms of several key indicators of national strength, such as education (non-humanities education), research and development, technology and manufacturing. To a large extent, this is due to China’s advantages in quantity and scale, and quantity itself will also bring about an improvement in quality. Therefore, it is not unreasonable for the United States to ask China to graduate from developing countries ahead of schedule and enter the ranks of developed countries.