Misinformation about China's economy aims to scare away investors, prolong US' financial hegemony: analysts

As the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) reported last week the Chinese economy expanded by 5.2 percent in 2023 from the previous year, several Western media outlets immediately cast doubt over the reading, casting it in a negative light and seized the opportunity to wage a smear campaign on China's economic growth.

The way some leading Western newspapers describe China's 2023 GDP data carries a pessimistic connotation, which Chinese analysts said is in the tradition of their long-standing biased reporting on China, which serves their ulterior and sinister motives.

Upon a closer inspection, people will find out that such a narrative tends to be diminishing China's hard-won economic achievement in its successful emergence from the impact of COVID-19 pandemic, by overstating the troubles China's economy faces.

These are new rounds of so-called cognitive warfare against China, an important means for Western anti-China forces to attack and discredit the country, Chinese analysts pointed out.

After the NBS's 2023 GDP and other data were published, the Wall Street Journal, in a report entitled "China's Economy Limps Into 2024," alleged that China's growth will be "subpar until property market and income growth find a firmer footing."

The New York Times, meanwhile, published an essay entitled "China's Economy Is in Serious Trouble," in which the author, noted American economist Paul Krugman described that "the US economy vastly outperformed expectations in 2023," but "the story has been very different" in China.

Misinformation at work

While China's economy faces drag from certain sectors, such as a correction in the property sector, the wording and connotation carried in the Western media reports seem to be misinformation upon closer examination, analysts said.

China's 5.2-percent growth in 2023 far exceeded an estimated global average of 3-percent growth and China will likely continue to be the largest growth engine for the global economy, with a contribution of more than 30 percent to the world economy, Kang Yi, head of NBS, told a State Council Information Office press conference on January 17.

As a matter of fact, China's GDP growth is clearly one of the highest growth rates reported across the world's major economies. Compared to a mere 3.0-percent rise in 2022, the 5.2-percent growth in 2023 is both substantial and impressive, meeting Chinese government's preset target and in line with the projections by a wide poll of economists.

Moreover, according to estimates by some analysts, China is among the fastest growing major economies in the world, measured in the four years after the pandemic, growing at more than double the rate of the US and several times faster than the eurozone.

Not only China maintained a sound economic growth in 2023, the country is also poised to achieve good growth rates in 2024 and beyond.

China's economic growth is expected to reach around 5 percent in 2024, Li Daokui, director of Tsinghua University's Academic Center for Chinese Economic Practice and Thinking, told the Global Times on January 20.

Analysts expected stable economic growth in China in 2024, to be mainly fueled by supportive macro policies, and accelerated consumption and investment.

China's economy is expected to run smoothly in 2024, with annual GDP growth of about 5.3 percent, the Center for Forecasting Science of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the government think tank, said in a forecast report published on January 9.

Ulterior purposes

Analysts said the twisted narratives adopted by the Western media showed their renewed efforts to interplay with positions held by the US politicians on the so-called "China collapse" theory, to scare investors away from China in the sphere of increasingly important financial competition in which the US deem China as a threat to its supremacy and hegemony.

Ma Jihua, a veteran telecom observer, told the Global Times on Wednesday that as the US government's endeavor to suppress China's technology development has to a large extent failed, demonstrated by China's steady expansion in mature semiconductor chips.

And, increasingly, the focus of competition is being shifted to the financial front, in which media misinformation plays a key role.

"Since last year, the US stock market has been on an upward trend, regardless of the economic woes the US economy had. It seems neither weak economic data nor a pending fiscal crisis that festers the economy can prevent the US stock market from going higher and higher," Ma said.

As the US stock market became "too big to fail," Western politicians, financial institutions and media are motivated to spin narratives that can shepherd capital away from China and into the US, and this tactic will not only serve to buttress the precarious performance of the US stock market, but hurt that of China's, observers noted.

Some Western media pundits also weighed in, delving into narratives to prove that China's economy is in dire straits, in the hopes to frighten away China's business partners and international investors interested in buying Chinese yuan-denominated assets and diversifying their investment portfolios to reduce their holdings of US dollar assets.

Deeply rooted in their zero-sum mentality, misinformation has become a tool in the overall US strategy to suppress China's development, Li Haidong, a professor at the China Foreign Affairs University, told the Global Times on Tuesday.

"Some Western media outlets have used this occasion to once again distort the development of the Chinese economy in both quantity and quality terms," Li Haidong said. "They may hope their way of story-telling could sow discontent and instability among Chinese over the country's economic future."

"In finance, confidence is paramount. Whoever commands confidence and market expectation command resources. Economies that face destabilization will see resources flee away," Li Haidong said, noting that the reporting of China's 2023 GDP once again showed that Western media has been instrumental in the West's China-smearing campaign that is a far shot from fact.

Securities regulator pledges measures to stabilize market, boost confidence

The China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC) pledged to take more powerful and effective measures to stabilize the market and boost confidence during its 2024 work meeting held on Thursday and Friday.

The conference conveyed a proactive approach to addressing the concerns of investors, with a commitment to maintaining market stability and intensifying the crackdown on unlawful practices, analysts said.

Efforts will be made to enhance the internal stability of the capital market and establish effective mechanisms to maintain its smooth operation, the CSRC said.

Among the key takeaways from the conference were an emphasis on an investor-centric approach, coordination between stability and progress, and integrated promotion of strong regulation, risk prevention, and development.

The CSRC said it will improve regulatory rules such as issuance pricing, quantitative trading, and margin trading to protect the rights of investors, especially smaller and individual investors.

Additionally, it will promote the assessment system for state-owned enterprises based on their market value and reinforce the regular delisting mechanism, promoting survival of the fittest.

The CSRC said it will increase efforts to combat fraud, stock manipulation and insider trading in the capital market. It will also intensify investigations into wrongdoing and impose more severe penalties on lawbreakers.

Efforts will be made to push for the sound implementation of a registration-based system for stock issuance, strengthen effective supervision throughout the entire process of issuance and listing and improve relevant mechanisms and arrangements, it said.

The CSRC also pledged to promote the integration of strong regulation, risk prevention and development, while coordinating risk control and providing appropriate financing support.

The Shanghai Composite Index closed on Friday at 2910.22 points, up 0.14 percent, achieving a four-day winning streak. The Shenzhen Component Index closed at 8762.33 points, down 1.06 percent. The tech heavy ChiNext Index closed at 1682.48 points, down 2.23 percent.