Beijing’s economy remains stable

According to the Beijing Commission of Development and Reform, Beijing records strong growth despite economic uncertainties and COVID-19 pandemic during the 13th Five-Year period (2016-20).

“The past five years was of great significance for Beijing’s development. The government spared no effort to improve macroeconomic policies and rolled out targeted measures to deal with volatile external conditions. This helped to ensure economic resilience and enhance the city’s comprehensive economic strength to a new level,” said Lin Enquan, deputy director of the commission.

Last year, Beijing’s annual GDP stood at 3.6 trillion yuan ($560 billion), up about 33 percent from 2016, according to the Beijing Bureau of Statistics.

The city’s per capita GDP has risen from $18,700 yuan to nearly $24,000, ranking Beijing among moderately developed economies, said a senior city official.

Pang Jiangqian, deputy head of the Beijing Bureau of Statistics, mentioned that the upgraded economic structure was a key improvement over the past five years, with expanding consumption and stronger high-end industries.

Statistics show that the added values of the high-tech industry and strategic emerging sectors have increased by 56.9 and 58.5 percent respectively. The industry of software and information technology services has achieved leapfrog development during the period, said the bureau. Its income stood at about 1.35 trillion yuan in 2019, nearly twice that of 2016.

By the end of last year, Beijing boasted 29,000 national high-tech enterprises, and the number of unicorn companies, startups each valued at more than $1 billion, ranked first around the world, according to the commission.

As local authorities continued to push forward supply-side structural reform and boost domestic demand, the city’s consumer spending grew by an average rate of 11 percent to 2.73 trillion yuan in 2019.

“Consumption is playing an increasingly vital role in spurring the city’s economic development,” Lin said.

Hit by the pandemic, spending fell 6.9 percent year-on-year in 2020, but online retail sales maintained rapid growth, said the bureau.

According to Pang, the city’s consumer confidence index came in at 122.6 in the fourth quarter of last year, close to its pre-pandemic level.

This indicated the consumer market has gradually recovered from the negative effects of the pandemic, even as local COVID-19 cases constrained consumption in December, experts said.

During the 13th Five-Year Plan period, Beijing has given considerable attention to sci-tech innovation, with expenditure on research and development at around 6 percent of the city’s GDP.

Pang said the sustained investment has paid off, producing a host of important research results and injecting strong impetus to economic growth.

In 2019, for every 10,000 people in Beijing there were 132 invention patents, nearly tenfold the national average.

The added value of Zhongguancun Science Park, the capital’s high-tech hub, was 1.04 trillion yuan in 2019, accounting for 29.4 percent of the city’s GDP that year, according to the bureau.

Residents have seen higher income and more stable employment during these years, Pang said. The city’s per capita disposable income increased from 48,000 yuan in 2015 to 68,000 yuan in 2019, representing average annual growth of 6.6 percent in real terms.

Despite the impact of the pandemic, the surveyed urban jobless rate in 2020 was below the city government’s control target of 5 percent, according to the bureau.

In the next five years, Beijing looks to expand its GDP in a greener way and build itself into an international center of scientific and technological innovation, according to the city government report delivered in January.

The report said that by 2025 when the 14th Five-Year Plan period (2021-25) concludes, the city’s per capita GDP is expected to hit 210,000 yuan, up about 35 percent compared to 2020.

Beijing is committed to innovation-driven strategies and promoting the integrated development of Zhongguancun Science City, Huairou Science City, Future Science City and the Beijing Economic-Technological Development Area, according to the report.

The work report also said Beijing will achieve its economic growth in a greener way by improving energy and resource utilization efficiency and reducing pollution.

The city’s forest coverage rate is estimated to reach 45 percent by 2025, 0.6 percentage points higher than last year’s figure. Days with heavy air pollution will be fundamentally eradicated by then, the report said.


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