An economic backwater that could barely feed its own population 70 years ago, China has grown into the world’s second-largest economy after decades of exponential growth and has remained the strongest engine of global economic growth since 2006.

From 1952 to 2018, China’s GDP witnessed a 452.6-times expansion from 30 billion U.S. dollars to 13.61 trillion dollars, according to a recent report released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS).

Meanwhile, China has ranked first in terms of contribution to world economic growth since 2006, the report said. Last year, the ratio of China’s contribution to global economic growth stood at 27.5 percent, 24.4 percentage points higher than the figure in 1978.

Ning Jizhe, Deputy Head of the National Development and Reform Commission, told a recent press conference that the past seven decades have seen China growing into not only the second-largest economy but also the largest trader of goods, the holder of the largest foreign exchange reserves, the second largest trader of service and the second largest user of foreign capital as well as the second largest outbound investor.

From Scratch to Industrial Powerhouse

Since the founding of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) 70 years ago, the country has seen remarkable progress in its industrial strength and transformed into a manufacturing heavyweight playing an indispensable role in the global industrial chain.

In the early days of the PRC, the country struggled to make a single tractor and could hardly produce enough soap and clothes to meet domestic demand. Now it manufactures and exports everything from daily necessities to semi-conductors and high-speed trains.

China’s value-added industrial output, an important economic indicator, skyrocketed from 12 billion yuan (1.7 billion U.S. dollars) in 1952 to over 30 trillion yuan last year, according to the NBS.

World Bank data showed that China overtook the United States as the world’s largest manufacturing country in terms of added value in 2010 and has retained first place ever since.

Among over 500 kinds of major industrial products announced by the United Nations, China sees its output of more than 220 kinds rank first globally, with its modern industrial system taking shape.

Frances Yu, president of Amway China, said today’s China is “the factory of the world” that manufactures all kinds of products ranging from toys and home appliances to 5G devices, and the country has become a major driving force for the growth of the world economy with its “Made in China” and “Created in China” products and innovations.

In a bid to add a more competitive edge to its manufacturing sector, China has also been stepping up its efforts to invest more in research and development (R&D).

According to the NBS, China’s R&D intensity, or the proportion of R&D expenditure to GDP, reached a record high of 2.19 percent last year.

Belt & Road Gaining Steam

The Chinese Belt & Road Initiative (BRI), aimed at building a trade and infrastructure network connecting Asia with other parts of the world along the ancient Silk Road trade routes, has become a platform of opportunities and a road to prosperity for all its participants.

The initiative, under which China has signed cooperation documents with more than 160 countries and international organisations, has born rich fruit since it was proposed in 2013.

In less than six years, the BRI has forged a new pathway for international cooperation and effectively spurred global trade and economy.

From 2013 to 2018, the trade volume between China and countries participating in the BRI surpassed 6 trillion dollars, and China’s direct investment in those countries exceeded 90 billion dollars, realising a turnover of 400 billion dollars in foreign contracted projects.

By the end of 2018, the China-Europe rail service had connected 108 cities in 16 countries in Asia and Europe. A total of 13,000 trains had carried more than 1.1 million TEUs (20-foot equivalent unit).

Huang Jian, Managing Director of the Information Services Company Experian Greater China, said China now plays a significant role in the global value chain and the Chinese BRI is bringing mutual benefits and win-win outcomes to all its participants.