sheng111_JOHANNES EISELEAFP via Getty Images_shanghai skyline Johannes Eisele/AFP via Getty Images

China Must Create Shared Global Wealth

China has become vastly more prosperous in the last two decades, but with greater wealth comes greater social responsibility. Instead of quarreling, the United States and China need to start solving global problems together.

HONG KONG – The OECD is projecting an uneven K-shaped economic recovery from the pandemic in 2021. Richer countries with more extensive vaccine rollouts that can afford to reopen and reflate their economies will do so. Poorer economies will struggle to stay healthy and avoid debt crises. But the mantra that “no one is safe until everyone is” highlights the need to spread health, wealth, and self-respect to all. An increasingly prosperous China can and should play a central role in this effort.

Whereas the World Bank estimates that the pandemic may drive up to 150 million additional people globally below the poverty line of $1.90 per day, billionaires everywhere have become richer during the crisis. A 2020 report by UBS and PwC indicated that the global number of billionaires had increased to 2,189, with their combined wealth rising to $10.2 trillion, mainly owing to higher returns on technology stocks.

Meanwhile, Credit Suisse estimates that global household wealth stood at $400 trillion in June 2020, a more than threefold increase from $117.9 trillion at the end of 2000. Chinese household wealth rose remarkably fast, from 3.2% of the global total in 2000 to 17.7% by mid-2020. Over the same period, the United States’ share dropped from 36.2% to 29.4%, and Europe’s from 29.3% to 25.2%, while India’s rose from 1.1% to 3.5%. But the benefits of rising wealth have not been equally shared, as almost all countries’ Gini coefficient – which measures inequality – has worsened.

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