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GDP growth in China 1952-2015
Latest update: 7 April 2016

Sharp increase in GDP during the reform period
GDP rose from Rmb364 billion in 1978, at the start of the reform period, to Rmb63.6 trillion in 2014 (both figures at current prices).

Major slowdown in GDP growth rate
After peaking at 14.2% in 2007, real GDP growth has subsided to 6.9% in 2015. This is not a cyclical fluctuation but a long-term slowdown resulting from the restructuring of the economy away from dependence on a high rate of investment, mainly in infrastructure and manufacturing capacity and towards greater reliance on private consumption and services.

GDP Rmb billion at current prices    GDP per head Rmb Real annual GDP growth rate (%)

1952

67.9 119

1953

82.4 142 15.6

1954

85.9 144 4.2

1955

91.0 150 6.8

1956

102.8 165 15.0

1957

106.8 168 5.1

1958

130.7 200 21.3

1959

143.9 216 8.8

1960

145.7 218 -0.3

1961

122.0 185 -27.3

1962

114.9 173 -5.6

1963

123.3 181 10.2

1964

145.4 208 18.3

1965

171.6 240 17.0

1966

186.8 254 10.7

1967

177.4 235 -5.7

1968

172.3 222 -4.1

1969

193.8 243 16.9

1970

225.3 275 19.4

1971

242.6 288 7.0

1972

251.8 292 3.8

1973

272.1 309 7.9

1974

279.0 310 2.3

1975

299.7 327 8.7

1976

294.4 316 -1.6

1977

320.2 339 7.6

1978

365.0 382 11.7

1979

406.8 420 7.6

1980

455.2 464 7.9

1981

489.8 493 5.1

1982

533.3 529 9.2

1983

597.6 584 10.8

1984

722.6 697 15.2

1985

904.0 860 13.5

1986

1,030.9 966 8.9

1987

1,210.2 1,116 11.6

1988

1,510.1 1,371 11.3

1989

1,709.0 1,528 4.2

1990

1,877.4 1,654 3.9

1991

2,189.6 1,903 9.3

1992

2,706.8 2,324 14.3

1993

3,552.4 3,015 13.9

1994

4,846.0 4,066 13.1

1995

6,113.0 5,074 11.0

1996

7,157.2 5,878 9.9

1997

7,943.0 6,457 9.2

1998

8,488.4 6,835 7.8

1999

9,018.8 7,199 7.6

2000

9,977.6 7,902 8.4

2001

11,027.0 8,670 8.3

2002

12,100.2 9,450 9.1

2003

13,656.5 10,600 10.0

2004

16,071.4 12,400 10.1

2005

18,493.7 14,259 11.3

2006

21,765.7 16,602 12.7

2007

26,801.9 20,337 14.2

2008

31,675.2 23,912 9.6

2009

34,562.9

25,963

9.2
2010 40,890.3 30,567 10.6
2011 48,412.4 36,018 9.5
2012 53.412.3 39,544 7.7
2013 58,880.9 43,320 7.7
2014 63,613.9 46,629 7.3
2015 67,700.0 6.9

 

GDP ups and downs,  1952 -2015

1953 Hyperinflation conquered; civil war and land reform ended: GDP up 15.6% in real terms.

1958-59 So-called "Great Leap Forward" devastated agriculture: result was falling GDP in 1960-62. (Figures for 1958-59 highly suspect, as the statistical network was largely destroyed in the "Leap", when absurdly high increases in output were reported by frightened local officials.)

1963-66 Partial restoration of market economy in the countryside promoted faster growth of agriculture.

1967-68 Production undermined by the so-called "Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution", that was initiated by Mao in mid-1966 and effectively ended by People's Liberation Army intervention in 1968.

1969-70 High growth rates followed the restoration of order after the "cultural revolution".

 1976 Widespread earthquakes, including the worst ever at Tangshan, hit industrial centres, while agricultural output was hit by drought; policy paralysis resulted from the anti-Deng campaign, followed by Mao's death and the arrest of the Gang of Four. GDP fell.

1978-1982 Smashing the communes and restoring family farming jacked up agricultural (especially grain) output.

1983-85 Double-digit real GDP growth accompanied the first wave of foreign investment into China, and non-state enterprises started to develop.

1989-91 Growth slowed after the government braked the overheating economy following an aborted effort at wholesale price reform in 1988 which resulted in panic buying and runaway inflation. Price stability was achieved by cancelling large fixed investment projects, slowing domestic demand. Foreign investment fell off after the Beijing Massacre of June 1989.

1992 Deng Xiaoping's Southern Tour at the beginning of the year massively boosted foreign direct investment inflows into coastal areas and started a wave of government investment in Shanghai. Record trade and GDP growth and inflation followed.

1993 Zhu Rongji appointed to rein in the overheating economy, this time more selectively than in 1989-91. Growth rates subsided gradually in subsequent years, producing a so-called "soft landing". During the 1990s, living standards continued to rise, as evidenced by the proliferation of consumer durables, especially among the urban population. Continuing FDI inflows helped boost foreign exchange reserves to record heights in the late 1990s.

Especially after the publication of the 1998 GDP figures, economists, both in China and abroad, have raised serious doubts about the quality of China's national accounts, which appeared in the late 1990s to overstate economic growth and are now suspected of understating growth. This may be because the statistical system tends to overestimate output at the trough of the cycle and underestimate output at the peak.

However, the country's first production census discovered at the end of 2005 that GDP has recently been grossly underestimated as a result of a failure to take into account the rapid growth of the services sector. As a  result, growth rates for 2003-2005 are now recorded at around 10% per year in real terms.

  Despite efforts to cool the overheating economy, the officially recorded GDP growth rate was 11.4% in 2007.

In 2008 the global economic crisis began to reduce China's growth rate. In the face of forecasts that this might drop below the rate at which school leavers can be absorbed by the growing economy (7%-8%) the government decided to pump Rmb 4 trillion into the economy in the form of an economic stimulus package consisting largely of investment in fixed infrastucture and human capital.

The stimulus succeeded in preventing a dramatic fall in GDP growth in 2009 and in providing a sustained recovery in 2010, when the real annual GDP growth rate rose to 10.4%.

Since then, GDP growth has decelerated gently, reaching 6.9% in 2015. This slower growth is causing jitters in the rest of the world because China is now a major component of the global economy. Commodity prices have slumped: cheaper oil is hurting oil producers and the dumping of China's surplus steel output is threatening the survival of national steel industries in countries like the UK. Exporters to and investors in China worry about possile falls in demand.

Source: National Bureau of Statistics, China Statistical Yearbooks; National Bureau of Statistics plan report; National Bureau of Statistics communiqués.