CHINA in the Global Economy
"No single country or group of countries will succeed on their own," said OECD
Secretary-General Angel Gurría during an address on the global recession before a Beijing
audience in March 2009. "This is a task where we all have to join together." He then
expressed what his audience already knew: "In this interdependence, the contribution of
China is crucial."
A few months later, in Washington, D.C., President Barack Obama took up that theme,
observing that "the relationship between the United States and China will shape the 21st
century," thus rendering this bilateral relationship "as important as any ... [other] in
the world" today.
How did China become one of the world's leading economies? Why does it appear to wield so
much influence at this moment in history? Learning Enrichment's (LE's) brand-new unit
"Eyes On China..." will help your students begin to explore these and similar questions.
But first, here are two basic sources for your own files on the topic. (a) For
up-to-date statistics, see the entry on
in the CIA World Factbook. (b) And for China's official views on issues in
the news, look for position papers and other reports at the website of the
Embassy of the People's Republic of China in
the United States.
The unit "Eyes On China..." is especially appropriate for courses in Economics, World
Issues, Current History, and Global Relations. It has been written to help students
develop the skills and understandings implied by several curriculum themes in
"Expectations of Excellence....," a publication from the National Council for the Social
Studies (NCSS). Using the unit articles, students should be better able to:
- distinguish between ... domestic and global economic systems, and
explain how the two interact. (Theme VII: Production, Distribution
and Consumption, Item "i")
- evaluate conditions, actions, and motivations that contribute to ...
cooperation among nations. (Theme VI: Power, Authority and Governance,
- analyze ... possible solutions to ... contemporary and emerging global
issues, such as ... resource allocation, economic development, and
environmental quality. (Theme IX: Global Connections, Item "d")
Many of the concepts and terms on the Student Text Pages of this unit reflect topics
currently on the front pages — and in the "Economy" sections — of newspapers,
periodicals, Internet blogs, etc. Some such terms are defined within context on the Student
Text Pages. All are listed below for your convenience.
Terms to preview: architect, Buddha, civilization, climate change, communist, credit,
culture, currency, economist, financial crisis, foreign exchange reserves, free-trade zone,
G-5, G-20, global credit, gross domestic product, International Monetary Fund, investor,
mortgage loans, pavilion, purchasing power (as applied to GDP), recession, regulation,
stimulus fund, trade partner.
USING "EYES ON CHINA..."
Measured in purchasing power, China's GDP and its annual exports now rank second only
to those of the United States (2008). Both achievements highlight the expanding influence
that China exercises within the global economy. And both explain why China now brings
such a strong voice to international issues — the issue of how to reform the global
financial system, for example. To help students get a handle on at least a few aspects of
these emerging trends, "Eyes On China..." offers you the three Student Text Pages described
below. While the social studies curriculum that you follow may suggest an alternative order,
the sequence of pages here indicates LE's recommendation for their optimum use.
1. Student Text Page No. 1: "The Global Stage."
Content: China builds up its economy, weathers the financial crisis and recession,
and becomes a voice for nations seeking a reformed global financial system. Guided Reading
Prompt: Urge students to examine this page's title, subtitle, and section headings,
then glance quickly through the article. Have them tell you what they predict the article will
be about, then read the article to confirm or revise their prediction. (Note: See also the
"Social Studies Reading Skills" section of this Teacher's Page, below.)
- 1a. Using reliable sources. Locating reliable data on any economic issue that has
just begun to unfold is a major challenge in the 21st century — even with (and maybe
because of) the growing variety of "instant" communications media. For students approaching a
new social studies topic, their best first step may be to turn to a reliable compiler of
already known facts. LE's Data Page for this unit is based
in large part on the
World Factbook — an excellent source that is regularly updated throughout the
year. TIP: Have students consult this unit's Data Page and the "Economy"
segment of the Factbook article on "China." Urge them, using both sources, to identify
four or five facts about China that seem important in these times (its GDP? 9% growth rate?
exports total? No. 3 rank in oil consumption?). Point out how one statistic can affect the
way we think about another. For example: The impressive dollar amount of China's GDP, when
divided by its 1.3 billion population number, yields a middle-ranked per-capita income of
- 1b. Looking for explanations! Recognizing a specialized vocabulary — one
used by economists, for example — is another critical goal in the social studies
curriculum. For a quick online explanation of most such terms, researchers using
Google need only enter their term followed by
"meaning." TIP: For clear, detailed information about any Factbook
category label, students can tap into that source's
page. Choosing the link to "References" then opens a menu with a multitude of
"Definitions and Notes." For other terms,
Wikipedia seems an endless source of
information — though the caveats at the beginning of some entries are reminders that
this online encyclopedia is a work in progress. The proportion of specialized terms in some
entries can also seem daunting. See, for example, the Wikipedia entry for "Financial crisis
- 1c. From "G-8" to "G-20." As the "Global Stage" article indicates, groups of
emerging economies are pressing to be included at the table when global regulations are
decided, especially in matters of international finance. The article mentions two such
groups — the "G-5" and the "G-20." And it summarizes one of their arguments —
namely that, up to now, most decisions about global finance have been steered by nations
in the "West." TIP: The student article includes the names of the "G-5"
members. Ask students to research the membership of two other groups, as well — the
"G-8" (which has influenced global financial decisions until recently) and the "G-20"
(which is taking over that responsibility). Then have students locate the nation-members
of each group on a political world map. Discuss the "geography" of this shift from the
northern hemisphere to all populated continents. What advantages and/or disadvantages
might this shift entail for the "G-5," "G-8," and "G-20" nations — and for the
world as a whole? You might want to tell students that the "G-20" nations include about
two thirds of the global population and are responsible for roughly 85% of the world's
gross domestic production, together with 80% of its trade. (Note: The "G-8" includes
Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, UK, and the USA.... The "G-20" includes
Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy,
Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, UK, the USA, and a
representative of the European Union.)
- 1d. Global reform. Students who are interested in steps now underway to reform
the global financial system can consult a September 2009 article by Edmund L. Andrews in
The New York Times:
"Leaders of G-20 Vow to
Reshape Global Economy." Following that, the more detailed
G20 Meeting in Scotland," as reported by Reuters, will give them a more detailed idea
of what's afoot. TIP: Invite a few students to present summaries of these
two sources — and any others they've researched — in the form of a special TV
news report. Main points: Why do the "G-20" nations feel reform is necessary? What
direction does their work seem to be taking? Who would appear to benefit from this reform
- 1e. Page Review. How and when did China achieve the status of a major
global economy? What effect has the global recession had on its economy? As China's
leaders reflected on the recession, what remedies did they propose — and what goals
did they have in mind?
2. Student Text Page No. 2: "A Regional Setting."
Content: China's relationship with its Asian neighbors evolves over centuries
into modern times; China becomes a regional powerhouse for trade, security, and diplomacy.
Guided Reading Prompt: Direct students' attention to the names of China's
neighbors on this unit's Map Page. Have volunteers select
the name of one such neighbor and tell you what they know (or imagine) about its
relationship with China. After students read the article, ask them if they have revised
their opinions — and (if so) have them tell you why.
- 2a. The past as prologue? China is a society whose people are deeply
conscious of their long cultural history and of the role their country played within Asia
and in the larger world (as they knew it) for at least a thousand years prior to the 20th
century. Trade was important to China then, trade is important now. Harmonious relations
with others was important then, and it is a formally stated basis of Chinese policy today.
TIP: Prompt students to discuss the continuity of these and other such
priorities within various culture groups. How much, actually, does the past influence
— and perhaps even shape — a nation's ongoing development? (For more detail on
China's early history, see
"Within Its Region" in LE's
online unit "China: Continuing the Journey.")
- 2b. Regional associations. As the "Regional" article points out, China
invested many years in cultivating a free-trade agreement with the Association of Southeast
Asian Nations (ASEAN). TIP: Have students research the names and locations of
these nations, noting also such basic data as the population size, GDP, and major
industries of each country. To help students gain more understanding about the group as a
whole, suggest that they check the
"About ASEAN" page at that group's
official website. After students report on and compare their findings, ask them what they
feel might be the pros and cons of ASEAN's free-trade pact with China. Do the pluses and
minuses of such regional pacts depend upon the particular country's size or wealth? Or, in
these times, does sharing in a regional trade agreement outweigh any possible benefits in
trying to go it alone? (Note: ASEAN includes Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos,
Malaysia, Myanmar (Burma), Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.)
- 2c. Page Review. How have China's neighbors benefited from its economic
growth? What other kinds of cross-border trends or mutual interests link China to its
3. Student Text Page No. 3: "In the Spotlight."
Content: Chinese teens seek admission to college, China's workers benefit from a
nationwide stimulus plan, China wrestles with environmental pollution. Guided Reading
Prompt: Ask students to look within this article for an explanation of why and how
China recently launched a stimulus plan, then prompt them to analyze the plan's goals.
- 3a. Education and the future. The "Spotlight" article devotes a sizable
segment to the gaokao — a topic with resonance for high school students
everywhere. It also underlines the role of the family in preparing children (where
possible) to take this long (9-hour) exam. The ultimate focus of everyone's efforts? The
"future." TIP: Invite students to write a letter to "Bao," an imaginary
friend in China, who is preparing for the gaokao. Urge your letter-writers to cover
at least these two topics: what they understand about the gaokao and how it seems to
compare with preparing for college admission in the USA. Bonus points for those who also
share their own reflections on what they think the "future" will demand of them in the
- 3b. Making choices. This final article in LE's unit outlines several major
domestic challenges facing the government of China and its people: the need to keep the
economy growing (and thus provide jobs for 807 million people!), the need to "bend" this
economy a little more toward China's own domestic market; the need to eradicate poverty
within its farm population, the need to increase efforts in the fight against environmental
pollution.... Is there a way to address all these goals at once? TIP: Hold
a contest based on that last question! Invite students to work in teams of three or four,
to take the role of experts charged with the task of developing a plan that would address
all of those needs simultaneously. (Tell them to pretend they have a half-trillion-dollar
budget!) Invite each team to make a five-minute presentation to the rest of the class;
allow for questions from the audience; then call for a concluding paper-ballot vote for
the team that makes the most persuasive (and acceptable) proposal.
- 3c. Page Review. How has the China's economic expansion influenced its
people's opportunities? What impact (if any) has the recession had on those opportunities?
What new challenge do China's people face, as a result of the country's continuing economic
SOCIAL STUDIES READING SKILLS
In this high-tech age, have we evolved to the point where reading skills are obsolete?
H-m-m-m-m. Not yet.... Here's LE's contribution to your efforts to help students become
skillful interpreters and evaluators of what they read. (See also LE's website page on
Reading Skills in the Social
- (1) With students who are fairly strong readers. Pre-list skills "a" through "g"
(below) on the chalkboard, or computer screen, or posterboard — and review their
meanings quickly at the start of the lesson. Then distribute printout copies of "The Global
Stage," asking students to read it and highlight or jot down any term, phrase, or excerpt
from the article that reflects the goal of each listed skill. For example: Within the
context of this article, China's No. 2 rank among exporting nations might be recognized as
an example of the "significant detail" mentioned in item "b."
- (2) With students who need more help in reading. Pre-list some or all of the
skills, explaining the meaning of each one as you do so. Be sure students have a
preliminary basic understanding of the article's focus. (Just skimming the article would
yield clues that it is about China's economy, the recession, other countries, etc.) Then,
after students read the whole article, select a term or passage that illustrates one of the
skills and read it aloud — without identifying the skill. Instead, ask students to
look at the list and try to identify the skill you have just illustrated. This approach
will help you to keep tabs on their understanding of important distinctions, such as the
difference between a sequence of events ("c") and a cause-effect relationship ("e").
- Reading Skills
- a. determine the main idea
- b. locate a significant detail
- c. recognize a sequence of events
- d. recognize a comparison
- e. trace a cause-effect relationship
- f. determine the meaning of context-dependent terms
- g. recognize a generalization
- Possible answers. (Note: Examples within quotation marks are cited from
Student Text Page No. 1. Other sample answers are summaries or re-wordings of material in
that article.) (a) China built an economy that was able to survive the global
recession, but its leaders argued that the world may need a stronger system of financial
regulation. (b) China ranks second in GDP and exports; it has the world's largest
amount of foreign reserves; the "G-20" nations have agreed to develop a stronger global
financial system; etc. (c) In 1979, China decided to modernize its economy; by the
1990s its economy was growing at 10 percent annually; by 2008, its GDP ranked second in the
world. (d) "... The IMF was founded by Western nations ... and it still reflected
their priorities. Emerging "big" economies in other parts of the world — Brazil, Russia,
India, South Africa, and China (the "G5") — had gained almost no voice in IMF
decision-making. (e) "... Fearing sudden losses of their own, banks in other parts
of the world started cutting back on loans. Credit dried up, businesses failed, millions
lost jobs, trade plunged. China's export industry slumped, too." (f) " ... Did the
system itself need reform? That "system" is actually the set of rules by which nations
conduct trade and settle debts...." (g) "In some matters — air-traffic safety,
for example — most nations accept the need for international regulation."
As referenced earlier, the website for the
Embassy of the People's Republic of China in the
USA is an excellent source on issues related to this unit's topic. For a broader spectrum
of current news, data, and cultural insights into China today, see the website of the
official China Internet Information Center.
Finally, LE editors recommend the following publications to your attention. A few have
already been identified on this page but are repeated here for the purpose of fuller
citations. The code at the end of each entry identifies the Student Text Page (1, 2, or 3)
with which use of the item seems appropriate.
Andrews, Edmund L. "Leaders
of G-20 Vow to Reshape Global Economy." The New York Times. September 26, 2009.
Excellent summary of decisions made at the September meeting of G20 leaders in Pennsylvania.
"ASEAN May Become
China's 3rd Largest Trade Partner." China Daily. April 10, 2009. STP2
Batson, Andrew. "China Sets Big Stimulus Plan in Bid to Jump-start Growth." The Wall
Street Journal. November 10, 2008. STP3
Power Takes Root in the Chinese Desert." The New York Times. July 3, 2009. STP3
-------. "China Influence Grows With Car Sales." The New York Times. April 20, 2009.
"China." CIA World Factbook. Updated regularly throughout the year. See especially
the "Economy" segment. STP1, STP3
"China's Future in an
Energy-Constrained World." World Resources Institute. December 2008. STP3
Clinton, Hillary and Geithner, Timothy.
"A New Strategic and Economic Dialogue With China." The Wall Street Journal.
July 27, 2009. Joint statement by the U.S. Secretary of State and the U.S. Secretary of the
Treasury on the occasion of talks between top officials of both nations. STP3
"Communique from G20
Meeting in Scotland." Reuters. November 7, 2009. Text of communique issued at the
conclusion of a November 2009 meeting of G20 finance ministers and central bank governors.
Faiola, Anthony. "Finance Chiefs Back a Bolder IMF, Bigger Role for Emerging Nations."
The Washington Post. April 26, 2009. STP1
of Countries by Number of Internet Users." Wikipedia. November 14, 2009. With 338
million Internet users, China ranks No. 1. STP3
"List of States by Foreign Exchange Reserves." Wikipedia. November 15, 2009.
With $2.3 trillion in forex reserves, China ranks first. STP1
"Major Foreign Holders of Treasury Securities."
The U.S. Treasury. China ranks first in dollar amounts of U.S. Treasury securities held
by other nations. STP2
"China Steps Up, Slowly But Surely...." The Washington Post. October 24, 2009.
China's growing efforts to "make energy use less damaging to the world's climate." STP3
"Will China's Consumers Save the World Economy?" Time. Nov. 15, 2009. STP3
Tung, C.H. "In China, There's a Lot To Celebrate." The Washington Post. October 31,
2009. A brief op-ed overview of China's development since 1949, by the chairman of the
China-U.S. Exchange Foundation. STP2
"US-China Clean Energy Research Center
Announced." The U.S. Department of Energy. July 15, 2009. STP3
Wai-yin Kwok, Vivian. "China: The World's Biggest IPO Market." Forbes. September 9,
[PDF] Wen Jiabao.
"Strengthen Confidence and
Work Together...." World Economic Forum, January 28, 2009. China's premier urges a
reform of the International financial system. STP1
Six-Point Proposal on Co-op with ASEAN." China Daily. October 24, 2009.
Zoninsein, Manuela. "China's SAT."
Slate. June 4, 2008. The gaokao! STP3
China Student Text Page No. 1 |
China Student Text Page No. 2 |
China Student Text Page No. 3 |
China Map Page |
China Data Page |
Page (Note: This page is from another LE unit)
Would you like to see other pages in this study
unit? Or visit LE's Home Page?
LE wishes to thank the Embassy of the People's Republic of China in the
United States for underwriting the costs of producing and distributing the original printed
version of this unit. We hope that, in this new electronic version, our unit continues to
serve teachers and students in Grades 7-12.
Learning Enrichment, Inc.
Content last updated: November 2009. Page last reviewed: November 2009.