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The Beijing Axis presents The China Compass - Q3 2016
Wednesday, 27 July 2016 11:01


The China Compass October 2015The China Compass combines basic country data for China, as well as other major world economies, with more detailed analysis of a wide range of macroeconomic and social data. Presented in a reader-friendly format as a useful desk reference for executives with a China agenda, it reveals a comprehensive picture of the ever-changing and evolving Chinese landscape and contains up-to-date statistics, topical themes and insights.


In the same manner that a compass highlights the cardinal points of north, south, east and west, The China Compass is intended to serve as a navigational instrument for determining China's position and direction in the context of the world's economic landscape. By closely examining China's importance to and progressive integration with the world economy, The Beijing Axis presents The China Compass as a knowledge tool for executives with a China agenda.

Uncertain economic prospects in much of the world still characterize the global landscape. The US recovery is slow and the Eurozone continues to be plagued by uncertainty, most recently by BREXIT and mixed macroeconomic indicators. China has continued in its moderation and a GDP growth of 6.5% is now generally accepted as the new 'normal' after years of rapid development. While the world is still grappling with this new reality – especially with the lingering effects on global commodity prices and the fallout in many related industries – the long-term fundamentals driving China's economic growth remain intact.

China's slowdown and transformation is leaving a wake of change that has been destructive for some, but also heralds a new dawn for others. The impact is being felt domestically and internationally, and begs many questions: Where is the impact the worst, and which emerging industries, sectors and regions will do well? Does the protracted slowdown and transformation pose a threat to China's long-term development goals? China's policy makers clearly recognise the risks and evolving nature of the country's social, economic and financial terrain. But despite many mounting challenges, our view is that Beijing still has enough policy leeway to offer critical support and off-set the damage of severe downward pressures in the economy. But, as stated previously, deep-rooted and often painful reforms must continue as a matter of urgency so as to safeguard not just the current cycle, but also the structural integrity of China's economy and its ability to deliver on its long-term development goals. Recent soft economic indicators, stock market gyrations, overcapacity, mounting debt and the RMB depreciation remain a drag on confidence; what is clear is that the reform agenda only becomes more imperative as the country transitions to a consumer-driven, service-oriented and higher-value-add economy.

Generalisations are often made about 'China being the factory floor of the world', or 'China having lost its competitiveness due to rising labour costs'. Interestingly, these views sit on opposite ends of the spectrum. In this Q3 2016 edition, we investigate whether China is in fact still the most prominent manufacturing force in global supply chains, or whether rising costs have made it lose its magic.

In this edition, we again provide the latest macroeconomic data available for a wide range of indicators, for China as well as for other major developed and developing economies. In Section 1, we set the scene. Section 2 features 'China's Manufacturing Competitiveness – Evolution and Realignment'. This section examines China's manufacturing competitiveness and presents a simplified framework of assessment. Sections 3 and 4 provide a more detailed, quantitative look into China's economic, social, financial and geopolitical make-up, domestically and compared with selected economies in the wider global community. Finally, Section 5 offers insights into key trends and outlines the conclusions and implications for players engaging in/with China.

We trust that this edition will be useful for those that are in the midst of planning, and that it will shed light on past developments and future prospects of a uniquely Chinese story of human development.

As always, we welcome all feedback.


Kobus van der Wath
Founder and Group Managing Director
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