On the eve of its biggest political pageant of the year, Beijing was stubbornly hunkered down in the midst of one of its regular “airpocalypses.”

Measured on a purchasing power parity (PPP) basis that adjusts for price differences, China in 2009 stood as the second-largest economy in the world after the US, although in per capita terms the country is still lower middle-income.

Deterioration in the environment – notably air pollution, soil erosion, and the steady fall of the water table, especially in the north – is another long-term problem.

China is also the second largest trading nation in the world and the largest exporter and second largest importer of goods.
The PRC government’s decision to permit China to be used by multinational corporations as an export platform has made the country a major competitor to other Asian export-led economies, such as South Korea, Singapore, and Malaysia.

The restructuring of the economy and resulting efficiency gains have contributed to a more than tenfold increase in GDP since 1978.

Its mineral resources are probably among the richest in the world but are only partially developed.

China has acquired some highly sophisticated production facilities through trade and also has built a number of advanced engineering plants capable of manufacturing an increasing range of sophisticated equipment, including nuclear weapons and satellites, but most of its industrial output still comes from relatively ill-equipped factories.

The market-oriented reforms China has implemented over the past two decades have unleashed individual initiative and entrepreneurship, whilst retaining state domination of the economy.

Globally, foreign investment decreased by almost 40 percent last year amid the financial downturn and is expected to show only marginal growth this year.

“The growth rate (for ODI) in the next few years will be much higher than previous years,” Shen said, without elaborating.

China is aiming to be the world’s largest new energy vehicle market by 2020 with 5 million cars.

In large part as a result of economic liberalization policies, the GDP quadrupled between 1978 and 1998, and foreign investment soared during the 1990s.

Despite initial gains in farmers’ incomes in the early 1980s, taxes and fees have increasingly made farming an unprofitable occupation, and because the state owns all land farmers have at times been easily evicted when croplands are sought by developers.

China is the world’s largest producer of rice and wheat and a major producer of sweet potatoes, sorghum, millet, barley, peanuts, corn, soybeans, and potatoes.

Sheep, cattle, and goats are the most common types of livestock.

Coal is the most abundant mineral (China ranks first in coal production); high-quality, easily mined coal is found throughout the country, but especially in the north and northeast.

China is among the world’s four top producers of antimony, magnesium, tin, tungsten, and zinc, and ranks second (after the United States) in the production of salt, sixth in gold, and eighth in lead ore.

Major industrial products are textiles, chemicals, fertilizers, machinery (especially for agriculture), processed foods, iron and steel, building materials, plastics, toys, and electronics.

Shanghai and Guangzhou are the traditionally great textile centers, but many new mills have been built, concentrated mostly in the cotton-growing provinces of N China and along the Chang (Yangtze) River.

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‘Lianghui Gray:’ Smog Chokes Beijing as National People’s Congress Kicks Off