China, a developed or still developing country? That is the question.
Some claim that China, the world's second largest economy and a global leader in hi-tech development, should be considered a developed country; others argue that China cannot be considered a developed country because its per-capita economic indicators rank low globally.
Neither international law nor international organizations offer official definitions of developed or developing countries. But, in practice, one of the most common metrics used to determine if an economy is developed or developing is per-capita GDP. In 2022, China's per-capita GDP stood at $12,741, one fifth the average for developed economies and one sixth that of the United States.
Another commonly used metric is the UN's human development index, which goes beyond the economic realm to look at indicators such as literacy and access to healthcare. China ranked 79th in 2021, far behind the 30-plus countries that are deemed developed.
Despite the remarkable achievements China has made in recent decades, it still faces developmental imbalances and shortcomings and has yet to develop a strong capacity to innovate in science and technology. China has booming cities, like the megalopolises of Beijing and Shanghai. But it is also a country with many places, especially in the rural areas, where infrastructure is in dire need of improvement and where many people struggle to secure a well-off life.
China has eradicated absolute poverty, achieving the poverty reduction goal of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development 10 years ahead of schedule. Based on this, the country now focuses on pursuing its rural revitalization strategy—one closely intertwined with absolute poverty elimination and a core component of the Central Government's goals to promote more balanced economic and social development.
As it develops itself, China is playing an increasingly important role on the international stage. For instance, it has become the second largest contributor to both the UN's regular budget and the international body's peace-keeping operations spending. But the responsibilities China is expected to shoulder must be in line with its own development level.