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China Takes the Crown as the World’s Manufacturing Superpower


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China’s remarkable economic ascent, characterized by a state-led development model, has positioned it as the world’s unrivaled manufacturing superpower.

This groundbreaking achievement, as highlighted by a recent research paper from a prominent European think tank, underscores the sheer scale and impact of China’s influence on the global manufacturing landscape.


China’s Manufacturing Supremacy:

In 2020, China’s manufacturing prowess reached unprecedented heights, accounting for a staggering 35% of the world’s gross manufacturing production. This surpasses the combined output of major industrial nations, including the United States, Japan, Germany, India, South Korea, Italy, France, and the United Kingdom. The extent of China’s dominance is further emphasized when considering value-added measurements, where it still represents 29% of global manufacturing.


The State-Led Development Model:

China’s success story is rooted in its distinctive socialist market economy, where state-owned enterprises control vital sectors, state-owned banks provide strategic industries with favorable loans, and a robust industrial policy propels the country up the value chain. This model, contrary to the Western neoliberal approach, has led to China becoming an unparalleled manufacturing force.


US-China Trade Tensions:

As China solidifies its manufacturing superpower status, tensions between the United States and China in trade relations become more apparent. The US, having embraced a neoliberal economic model that led to relative de-industrialization, now grapples with the reality of its heavy dependence on Chinese manufactured goods.


The Difficulty of Decoupling:

Despite political rhetoric surrounding economic decoupling, the research suggests that disentangling from China’s manufacturing web would be a challenging, slow, expensive, and disruptive process. The US, in particular, finds itself significantly more exposed to Chinese manufacturing production than the reverse, revealing the complexities involved in any decoupling efforts.


Global Implications:

The interdependence of the global economy becomes evident, with the European Union, represented by influential institutions like the Centre for Economic Policy Research (CEPR), grappling with the impact of China’s manufacturing dominance. As Western governments contemplate strategies like “decoupling” and “derisking,” the CEPR research paper underscores the difficulty and consequences associated with such endeavors.



China’s status as the world’s sole manufacturing superpower marks a transformative shift in global economic dynamics. As the US and other Western nations navigate the complexities of trade tensions, the intricate web of interdependence underscores the challenges in attempting to disengage from China’s manufacturing stronghold. The implications resonate not only in economic terms but also in the broader geopolitical landscape, urging a nuanced approach to international relations.

Wasim Qadri
Wasim Qadri
Islamabad based Senior Journalist, TV Show Host, Media Trainer, can be follow on twitter @jaranwaliya

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