China: Country fact sheet

Content Type
Country Data and Maps
Economist Intelligence Unit
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Summary, Economy, Background, Fact sheet
Political Geography

Fact sheet

Annual data 2020a Historical averages (%) 2016-20
Population (m) 1,395.1 Population growth 0.5
GDP (US$ bn; market exchange rate) 14,850.2b Real GDP growth 5.7
GDP (US$ bn; purchasing power parity) 24,621.9b Real domestic demand growth 5.4
GDP per head (US$; market exchange rate) 10,645 Inflation 2.2
GDP per head (US$; purchasing power parity) 17,649 Current-account balance (% of GDP) 9.6
Exchange rate (av) Rmb:US$ 6.90b FDI inflows (% of GDP) 4.1
a Economist Intelligence Unit estimates. b Actual.

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Background: The People's Republic of China was founded in 1949 by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). The CCP chairman, Mao Zedong, then led the country for nearly three decades. After coming to power in 1978, two years after Mao's death, Deng Xiaoping introduced economic reforms. From 1989 to 2002 Jiang Zemin presided over a more collective leadership-a trend that strengthened under his successor, Hu Jintao, but weakened after 2012 under the current CCP general secretary, Xi Jinping. Mr Xi has cultivated a more centralised and authoritarian style of leadership. The scrapping in March 2018 of a ten-year constitutional term limit on the office of the presidency indicated that Mr Xi intended to stay in power beyond 2023, in a break with the recent tradition of once-a-decade leadership transitions.

Political structure: The CCP dominates the political structure. Mr Xi is general secretary of the CCP and chairman of the Central Military Commission, which controls the armed forces. Li Keqiang leads the government as premier, and Mr Xi is state president. The CCP politburo standing committee is China's main decision-making body. The National People's Congress is the (largely rubber-stamp) legislature. The Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, an advisory body, contains representatives of political, social and religious groups. There is no formal political opposition to the CCP.

Policy issues: Mr Xi's administration seeks sustainable growth alongside enduring CCP political control. The authorities abandoned a formal GDP target in 2020 amid the uncertainties stemming from the coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak. The five-year plan for 2021-25 is set to confirm the step away from GDP targeting in favour of addressing environmental degradation and boosting domestic consumption. It will also aim to reduce China's import reliance in sensitive areas, especially technology, through support for strategic sectors; state-owned enterprises will play a key role in this goal. As China's international relations with most Western powers look likely to be frayed, it will seek to cultivate leadership in the developing world, including through the provision of coronavirus vaccines and the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI).

Taxation: The standard rate of corporate income tax is 25%. Since early 2020 policymakers have loosened fiscal policy in response to the coronavirus pandemic, via delayed tax payments, cuts to social insurance contribution rates and other measures, but tax rates will remain broadly unchanged this year. The top marginal rate is 45%.

Foreign trade: China's goods trade surplus (in balance-of-payments terms) rose to US$530.5bn in 2020, from US$425.3bn in 2019. Exports stood at US$2.5trn in 2019, while imports were worth around US$2trn.

Major exports 2019 % of total Major imports 2019 % of total
Telecommunications equipment 9.0 Electronic integrated circuits 14.8
Automatic data processing machines 5.9 Petroleum products 11.5
Electronic integrated circuits 4.1 Iron ores 4.8
Petroleum products 1.5 Petroleum gas 2.5
Leading markets 2019 % of total Leading suppliers 2019 % of total
US 16.7 South Korea 8.4
Hong Kong 11.1 Taiwan 8.4
Japan 5.7 Japan 8.2
South Korea 4.4 US 5.9

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