NUMBERScr.JPGDo
you ever struggle to come up with the right statistic to describe
China's economic miracle? BusinessWeek has assembled a pretty
comprehensive list.

Let's start with the big one, GDP growth. China reported that Q3 GDP
jumped 10.4% year-on-year after the economy rose 11% during the first
half of 2006.

For contrast, Europe's GDP growth in 2006 is predicted to be around
2.6% while, in the US, GDP in the most recent quarter slowed to 1.6%.

In Japan, which seems in danger of slipping back into its old deflationary habits, growth is running at just 1.1%

Clearly, China is a good place to be and high-growth opportunities
are a lot easier for western businesses to find if the overall economy
is growing at more than 10% each year.

Nevertheless, its surprising the number of foreign firms whose China
operations report growth in low single-digits — see today's earlier story on Publicis, for example. Some even manage to clock up negative growth.

BusinessWeek points out that China's economy has doubled in size to
around $2.2 trillion thanks to a “remarkable five-year investment boom”
that has kicked in since China joined the WTO in 2001. Last year, it
overtook Britain as the fourth biggest economy behind the US, Japan,
and Germany.

China is now the world's third most important trading nation,
exporting and importing about $1.4 trillion worth of goods and services
a year. Its global trade surplus hit $102bn billion in 2005, roughly
triple the levels of the previous year, and could reach more than
$150bn by the end of 2006.

Keeping this hungry dragon fed requires a lot of commodities and raw
materials. China represents only about 5% of the global economy, but it
is an economy still heavily dependent on primary industries. It thus
consumes about 20% of global aluminum and copper, some 30% of steel,
iron ore, and coal, and 45% of cement produced each year.

The PRC also has an insatiable appetite for oil and energy and is scouring the world for new sources.

The effects of this hyper-growth are clearly visible to any visitor to China's big cities.

Since 1990, Shanghai has erected enough high-rises, to easily cover
Manhattan. Residential and commercial prices are clocking double-digit
gains in Beijing, where Olympic-related construction is fast and
furious.

The environment has paid a steep price for this economic bonanza. The US is still the biggest emitter of CO2 in the world, but China is second and gaining.

The air above Beijing is the most polluted in the world and in the
past five years the number of vehicles clogging the capital's streets
has more than doubled to 2.5m, according to the Guardian
newspaper. Air pollution has become so bad in Beijing that city
officials fear it is discouraging foreign investors from locating to
the capital.


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