WASHINGTON — The basis for China’s robust economic recovery has been the control of COVID-19, a renowned US economist said Tuesday, noting the country has strong momentum for continued outperformance in 2021.

“China is leading the global recovery,” Nicholas Lardy, a senior fellow at Washington DC-based think tank the Peterson Institute for International Economics, told Xinhua via email.

Lardy’s comments came one day after the country’s National Bureau of Statistics reported that China’s gross domestic product exceeded the 100-trillion-yuan ($15.42 trillion) threshold in 2020, with a year-on-year growth rate of 2.3 percent.

Noting that China is the only major economy with positive GDP growth, the renowned US economist said the growth pace exceeded the forecasts of major international financial institutions such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank.

“China’s trade was much stronger than global trade and direct investment inflows set a new all-time record in a year when global FDI (foreign direct investment) fell,” he continued.

When asked what contributed to China’s robust recovery in 2020, the veteran China watcher said the basis for China’s robust recovery has been the control of the virus, which is brought by massive testing and isolation.

In an article published in May 2020, Lardy already argued that China’s large-scale testing for COVID-19 can help restore consumer confidence, and may pave the way for a strong economic recovery.

Looking forward, Lardy said China’s economy will continue to maintain a strong momentum in 2021.

“The strong momentum is based on several factors, the most important of which is the likelihood of further expansion of consumption,” he said.

The economist noted that the consumption growth lagged earlier last year as citizens were not sure whether the virus was basically under control or not, but the consumption accelerated in the 3rd and especially the 4th quarter.

“Consumption growth is likely to strengthen further in 2021,” he added.

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