The Octant
Insights and reporting from Caleb Maupin

ChinaDock

As Americans become ever more nervous about pending problems in their economy, projecting these fears onto China is quite irresponsible and completely unjustified. 

The consistent rate of long-term economic growth in China over several decades is quite different than Trump's superficial boasts about stock market numbers.

The nervous reaction that followed the dramatic Oct. 10 drop on the New York Stock Exchange are fully justified. The increase in spending due to the Trump administration's initial wave of tax cuts, and the de-regulation drive is coming to an end. The problems involving an American public with declining ability to spend in a low-wage economy and amid crumbling infrastructure continues to assert itself.

Many economists are critical that any continued American ability to spend is dependent on debt. Real incomes are not increasing; neither are personal savings and real wealth. The country is getting poorer, despite the lending spigot occasionally being cranked open wider.

Amid the fears about the health of the U.S. economy, claims that China is in a similar situation are popping up throughout the American financial press. Stories highlight the debt of various local governments, as well as the recent sell-off of some of the U.S. debt owned by China. They go on to claim that China could soon be facing the same difficulties currently being experienced by America.

However, actual data disproves such assertions. Unlike the United States, which has been witnessing a steady overall decline in spending power among the population, the opposite trend has been taking place in China. There's abundant proof, all of it quite visible. 

According to CNN, every day, a new Chinese millionaire is created. The number of Chinese billionaires is rapidly rising. The rising number of new cash-rich Chinese tourists is greatly boosting the global hospitality and travel industry.

This is real economic growth. The wages of industrial workers, the profits of business owners, and the overall prosperity of society, are all rising. Government spending on infrastructure, poverty alleviation, technology, and programs working toward medium and long-term development goals has certainly been a factor driving this growth. 

However, spending and debt have not been the only factors. Chinese society is becoming increasingly prosperous overall.

On Oct. 19, the National Bureau of Statistics presented the real facts about the economic situation. One of its top statisticians, Mao Shengyong, reported: "The Chinese economy has, on the whole, remained stable in the first three quarters with deepened transformation and upgraded development." For the first three quarters of 2018, China's GDP increased by roughly 6.7 percent.

Such a rate of growth is almost unheard of in recent American history. For example, the GDP growth rate in 2017 was a mere 2.7 percent. The closest the United States has come to China's GDP growth rate in recent history was in 1999, with a rate of 4.7 percent.

It should be clear to observers that the ability of the Chinese government to control the centers of economic power has given the country a special ability to keep growing. The model of "Socialism with Chinese Characteristics" engineered by Deng Xiaoping utilizes foreign investment and the market, but allows the State to maintain control and protect society from capitalist chaos.

While Americans grow nervous about their declining standard of living amid record levels of government, household and student debt, they shouldn't seek to try and project their own difficulties onto China. China's economic growth is society-wide and based on overall gains for the entire population. It is not a debt-based illusion.  

Originally published at China.org.cn