Has the post-China era already arrived? PARK SEONG-HUN The author is a Beijing correspondent of the JoongAng Ilbo. China’s economy is as cold as the winter weather. The World Shopping Mall in downtown Beijing, displaying many luxury brands from around the word, was quiet this weekend. There were more employees standing in the stores than there were customers. I spotted some families and young people on dates, but the major shopping center in the Chinese capital was quite empty. When asked if the sales have improved after Covid-19, the CEO of a large restaurant in Wangjing, Beijing’s Koreatown, said, “No, it is actually harder than it was during the pandemic.” There were signs of recovery in the first half of the year, but sales have been falling since. The flow of money reflects that trend. More than three quarters of the foreign currency that flew into the Chinese stock market earlier this year has disappeared. Despite China’s efforts, global investors sold off $25 billion worth of stocks in just a few months. Dollar inflows were around $7.5 billion as of Nov. 10, their lowest since 2016 and less than a half of their level in 2020, when China was hit by Covid-19. The CSI 300 index of Shanghai’s and Shenzhen’s stock markets have plunged 11% since the beginning of the year, as foreign companies have withdrawn their investments due to China’s political instability, deflation crisis and real estate slump. Goldman Sachs determined that funds that left China are moving to the Indian and Korean markets. Economic indicators also indicate slow growth ahead. China’s share of the global economy has grown nearly tenfold, from 1.9% in 1990 to 18.4% in 2021. No country has ever grown so fast. But China now makes up 17 percent of global GDP, a 1.4 percent decline in two years. That hasn’t been seen since the 1960s. While China claims the real GDP-reflecting inflation rates continues to grow, economic experts say that nominal GDP, excluding inflation, is a more accurate measure that captures relative national economic strength. China seems to be in a hurry. Earlier this month, Beijing announced a 1 trillion yuan ($140 billion) stimulus package to prevent an economic slowdown. It is the largest booster since the 2008 financial crisis. But it remains to be seen whether China’s fiscal capacity will be sufficient at a time when the government investment-led economy has lost its vitality and tax revenue shows signs of reduction. Ruchir Sharma, chair of Rockefeller International, wrote in a column for the Financial Times, “In a historic turn, China’s rise as an economic superpower is reversing. The biggest global story of the past half century may be over.” A weakening Chinese economy can change the world. Are we now witnessing the post-China era?

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