The year 2022 was a difficult one, rife with massive waves of COVID-19 infection, geopolitical conflicts and other unpredictable changes. It was against this global backdrop that China's GDP grew by merely 3 percent, hitting a record 40-year low. Finally coming out on the other side of the pandemic, China is destined to see great economic growth in 2023.
Positive signs were already appearing in the country's consumer market during the seven-day Spring Festival holiday in late January. According to data released by the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, the holiday saw 308 million domestic tourism trips, up 23.1 percent from the same period last year, and a revenue of 375.843 billion yuan (about $55.4 billion), which marks a recovery to 73.1 percent of the pre-pandemic number in 2019.
Despite a strong uptick in consumer demand, China still faces major challenges, for example, a decrease in exports as it picks up speed in economic recovery. The continuous growth of the country's exports against a global economic downtrend is partly rooted in a surging demand for Chinese products in countries where the pandemic halted domestic production. However, as these countries resume regular production activities, overseas demand for China's exports is bound to shrink.
In the face of cooling global demand, China urgently needs to tap into the undiscovered potential of the domestic market. While focusing on the short-term stimulation of consumer demand, people should not forget the long-term project of industrial upgrading. The true challenge lies not in post-COVID recovery, but in a transition from low-end manufacturing to high-quality, technology-driven growth, which will give China a real edge in global competition.