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China Falling? Not So Fast

Author: Joshua Kurlantzick, Senior Fellow for Southeast Asia
June 28, 2013


Over the past month, global financial markets have become terrified by the prospect of a Chinese economic slowdown. Last week, the interbank lending rate in China jumped precipitously, suggesting that Chinese banks, which for years have been piling up debt lending to state-owned enterprises and building infrastructure, may now be facing a severe credit crunch. China's money markets slowed to a near halt, China's stock markets suffered whiplash, and many Western fund managers began lightening their China exposure.

To some, Chinese banks' debt loads signal the arrival of an event doomsayers have been predicting for decades—not just a slowdown but a meltdown of China's economy. That, of course, would be catastrophic for the international economy, since nearly every other country in Asia is dependent on trade with China—as are most Western multinationals.

But although international markets, the original kind of crowdsourcing, often deliver the right verdict, there's good reason to bet they'll be proven wrong this time. The Chinese economy, the second-largest on earth, is not going to melt down soon; in fact, it might still grow more strongly this year than most others in the world.

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