A new World Bank report suggests China’s economy could surpass America’s this year (by one measure, at least). But far from taking a triumphant tone, China’s government is rejecting the numbers. Chinese leaders are wary about how their country’s rise to the top could increase pressure on them to make concessions on carbon emissions, trade policy, currency and international aid.
There’s another reason for China’s muted response to this news: trumpeting strong growth numbers likely wouldn’t be well received by the hundreds of millions of Chinese still living in poverty.
“The Chinese government usually reacts in a very quiet way,” says Yale University finance professor Zhiwu Chen. “They realize that China overall, it’s still a developing and a poor country.”
All this is not to say that Chinese officials aren’t privately excited about economic growth. Just don’t look for any champagne, or Moutai toasts on camera.