China’s economy grew by 2.3 percent in 2020, according to figures released by the National Bureau of Statistics of China on January 18.

Nicholas Lardy of the Peterson Institute of International Economics told NPR that China was probably the only “only major economy” with “significant positive economic growth” last year. The figures for the U.S., Europe, and Japan were all “going to be negative,” he said.

The Japan Center for Economic Research and the U.K.’s Center for Economics and Business Research (CEBR) both expect China to surpass the U.S. as the world’s largest economy in 2028, according to Nikkei Asia.

Nikkei Asia said the Japanese think tank had previously predicted that China would not overtake the U.S. until 2036.

In the first three months of 2020, China's GDP dropped 6.8 percent due to lockdowns carried out in response to the Coronavirus pandemic, NPR noted. Consumer spending fueled a recovery that began in the second quarter of 2020, NPR added. The radio broadcaster also pointed out that the tariffs levied on Chinese goods by President Donald Trump did not thwart an increase in Chinese exports to the U.S.

Trading with China

The world's largest trade agreement was formed in November 2020, when China and 14 other countries - including Japan, India, and Australia - came together in the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership.

One month later, an investment agreement was signed by China and the European Union.

Greater Growth Expected in China

The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund expected China's GDP to grow by 8% this year.

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The CEBR predicted that by 2023 China's per capita gross national income would reach $12,536, meeting the World Bank's definition of a high-income economy.

Lingering concerns about COVID-19

Despite suffering occasional outbreaks, China outperformed the U.S. and other countries when controlling COVID-19. About 11 million people were currently under lockdown in Hebei province due to a local virus outbreak.

The National Bureau of Statistics of China said the country produced 669.49 million tons of grain in 2020, "up by 0.9 percent" over the previous year. It also said the production of industrial robots increased 19.1% from 2019. All in all, the bureau said, "the national economy recovered steadily... and the tasks of economic and social development were accomplished better than expected."