by Martina Fuchs
GENEVA, Sept. 29 (Xinhua) -- As China's National Day holiday kicks off on Friday, China watchers forecast a strong rebound in economic activity, with one expert at Switzerland's Institute for Management Development (IMD) saying that the country's new digital technologies and prosperity model are going to shape the world.
"The expectations are much more positive this year than they were for the last one, and last year we really had record numbers in terms of online purchases. This year is going to be even better," Arturo Bris, professor of finance at the IMD, told Xinhua in an interview.
"People have been saving more; there is more money to consume. Because of these positive expectations we know that when there is optimism, people consume more," said Bris, who is also the director of the IMD's World Competitiveness Center.
The Golden Week holiday is closely watched as a barometer of the country's economy, and usually sees surging tourism revenues, booming performances in retail and catering sales, and strong consumption in the culture and entertainment sectors.
It comes as China's retail sales of consumer goods are expected to hit 44 trillion yuan (about 6.8 trillion U.S. dollars) in 2021, an official with the Ministry of Commerce has said over the weekend.
CHINA'S DIGITAL COMPETITIVENESS
The IMD is one of the world's leading business schools. Its Digital Competitiveness Rankings published on Wednesday also showed that China is leading the world on its proportion of scientific and technical employees, who represent 11 percent of the country's total employment, almost double that of the United States (6 percent).
"China is obviously an impressive performer in digital competitiveness. Certainly, it's catching up with the most digitally advanced economies and I'm thinking about Switzerland but also Denmark or the United States," the IMD professor said.
"There are two digital powers in the world at the same level: the United States and China. China is dominant in artificial intelligence, in many of the new technologies that are going to shape the world. The potential is going to be immense. I have no doubt that in the next years China is going to become one of the top most competitive countries in the digital space."
The report also revealed that China is the country with the most robots in education and research and development. Its high-tech exports run at 31 percent of all manufactured exports, as against the United States' 19 percent.
Bris also emphasized that the monetization of data and the new emergence of financial products will be key trends shaping China's digital future.
"China is one of the leading countries in fintech, insurtech, and new banking products," he said. "And I want to mention a new mode of ownership. New models of car rental, the sharing economy in which we will not just buy products to own them but to share them. This is going to be massive in China because of the large number of consumers."
GLOBAL GROWTH DRIVER
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has projected China's gross domestic product (GDP) growth to pick up to 8.1 percent in 2021 and 5.7 percent next year.
"The world today is polar. We have economies that are recovering and will recover extremely well, and then economies that will suffer a lot. China is in the first category," Bris said. "I think it managed the pandemic very well by having an effective lockdown, by reducing the number of infections and then by rebounding the economy already from the very beginning. This is shown in the numbers."
"If we will look at the forecast for economic growth in 2021 already, the IMF predicts a stellar performance. And I think this is going to continue ..."
Bris said that while the world is still reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic, China could become a bigger growth engine for other countries and help support the global recovery.
"The Chinese growth is transforming more and more into prosperity. Of course, there are still some battles to be fought on that front. But definitely, this model has proven successful ..." Enditem