Developing or Developed? A China Debate by the Numbers

Chinese worker balancing buckets of water on a pole in an urban area. Source: ChinaTravelCA's flickr photostream, used under a creative commons license.

Chinese worker balancing buckets of water in an urban area. Source: ChinaTravelCA’s flickr photostream, used under a creative commons license.

Despite China’s place as the world’s second largest economy and one of the most rapidly growing in the world, the Chinese government still classifies itself as a developing country. Being known as a “developing country” serves to China’s advantage, as becoming a part of the developed world comes with a host of expectations and responsibilities. A developing country, as defined by the World Bank, is “one in which the majority lives on far less money—with far fewer basic public services—than the population in highly industrialized countries.” Though the World Bank stands by the determination that China is still a developing country, the vagueness of this definition allows for argument. In the debate on whether China is developed or developing, the statistics speak for themselves.

Statistics and chart compiled by Sabrina Devereaux, Freeman Chair in China Studies at CSIS from the following sources: WorldBank, CIA World Factbook, Huffington Post Canada, National Bureau of Statistics of the PRC, U.S. EIA, Pew Research Global Attitudes Project, Starbucks Investor Relations, and AgrifoodAsia.

Statistics and chart compiled by Sabrina Devereaux, Freeman Chair in China Studies at CSIS, from the following sources: World Bank – World DataBank, CIA World Factbook, Huffington Post Canada, World Bank – World Development Indicators, National Bureau of Statistics of the PRC, U.S. Energy Information Administration, Pew Research Global Attitudes Project, Starbucks Investor Relations, and AgrifoodAsia.

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9 comments for “Developing or Developed? A China Debate by the Numbers

  1. GJ
    August 19, 2014 at 15:28

    I am confused by the reference to public transportation vehicles per 10,000 citizens. Is that number high or low? Which one are you saying is representative of a developing country?

  2. shravan
    February 21, 2015 at 22:28

    superb information

  3. edu
    May 7, 2015 at 14:46

    Despite a large amount of Chinese are under the poverty line, the country have an impressive industry in the fields of manufacture and technology, by far superior to most developed countries. For me this is a key point to already consider China as a developed country.

    • tuk
      December 16, 2015 at 00:17

      I agree with you that China has been a developped country in terms of her superior public infrastructure. I have been there three times. Before landing China during my first visit to China, i had had an old imagination that china was poor in every thing, but when I really landed China for the first time, china’s superior grandeur was a big surprise to me. Super luxurious hotels, with automatic toilets, underground electrical cables, high speed trains which are very luxurious and hygiene. Every country including USA has poor people living below proverty line. but the important thing is that a developped country should have excellent public infrastructure (quick transportation)

    • peter Tempestoso
      February 19, 2016 at 03:04

      I agree china is a developed country. In my opinion, its like Britain in the 1930s developed but the standard of living of millions of isn’t quite up to standard, when they do get there the usa will be second fiddle, its a question of time, its a type of semi-status.

  4. zheng
    November 25, 2015 at 22:16

    china will never become developed. too inferior to japan or america.

    • thai people
      December 16, 2015 at 00:20

      you never go to china yourself. japan is better than USA. many parts in china have become better than USA.

  5. Chendende
    February 7, 2016 at 03:20

    China has equalised in many areas with the developed world

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