A woman uses an escalator in a shopping mall in Shanghai JOHANNES EISELE/AFP/Getty Images

China’s Irresistible Rise

When China released its official economic data for 2017, many commentators quibbled about the data's reliability. But what they should have been talking about is China's undeniable importance to the global economy, which is becoming increasingly reliant on China's transition from industrial production to domestic consumption.

LONDON – China’s recently released GDP data for 2017 confirm it: the country’s dramatic rise, with the concomitant increase in its global economic relevance, is not slowing down.

To be sure, there has been fresh media chatter about the reliability of Chinese data, owing to reports that some provinces have been overestimating their economic performance in recent years. But for all we know, other provinces may have been doing the opposite. And in any case, the provinces that have admitted to inflating their data are not large enough to have a significant impact on the national picture.

Moreover, two key points are often lost in the debate about China’s official statistics, which the country first starting releasing in the late 1990s. First, the debate is relevant only if China is increasing the degree to which it overestimates its data. Second, China’s published data should be considered in the context of its trading partners’ own figures, as well as those of major international companies that do business in China. As I have written before, it is telling that China has overtaken both France and the United States to become Germany’s top trading partner.

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