China's slowest growth since 1992? Relax.

China's slowest growth since 1992? Relax.

The last time China's economy was growing as slowly as it is today, Sir Mix-A-Lot stood atop the US charts (he liked big butts and he could not lie), a country called "West Germany" was the reigning FIFA World Cup champ, and South Africa still practiced apartheid.

Hard to believe, I know, but that's what the latest data says: annual expansion of China's economy fell to 6.2 percent in the second quarter of this year, the slowest rate since 1992.

Some of that slowdown comes from weaker exports: caused in part by Donald Trump administration's fresh tariffs on $250 billion worth of Chinese exports. And some of it comes from the current Chinese government's policy of steadily pulling back on the massive, but financially precarious, infrastructure investments that have helped boost growth in the past. And some of it is just simple math: an economy can't keep growing at 10 percent indefinitely. China's massive economy has been gradually cooling for years now.

So there are three ways to look at this.

The global view: Not all "six percents" are equal. Adjusted for differences in purchasing power, China's GDP is about 25 trillion dollars, according to the World Bank. Even if an economy of that size is growing at "only" 6 percent, that means it adds new output equal to the entire German economy every four years. Within 10 years, it'll have added GDP equal to another United States.

The domestic consideration: The Chinese government's own target is for growth between 6 percent and 6.5 percent, so no one is ringing alarm bells in Beijing just yet. What's more, the job market – which matters more to your average Chinese citizen (and the Chinese government) than a nationwide growth figure – is still looking pretty good. So President Xi Jinping isn't about to pump tons of money into the economy to give things a jolt.

But what if the growth figure drops below that 6 percent target range? Beijing wants the economy to look as robust as possible as the People's Republic celebrates its 70th birthday this fall. And if there's one thing that could pitch the Chinese economy further into gloom it's… you guessed it…

The one guy whose perceptions matter most: Trump immediately seized on news of the Chinese slowdown as evidence that his tough stance on US-China trade is working. If Trump smells blood in the water around China's economy, he'll be inclined – rightly or wrongly -- to hit Beijing even harder as the recently revived trade talks continue. And that could change the picture for the Chinese economy more significantly.

This time last year, world health experts were speculating about why Africa appeared to have escaped the worst of the global pandemic. Younger populations? Natural immunity created by exposure to past viruses? Something else?

They can stop wondering. Africa is now in the grip of a COVID emergency.

More Show less

Listen: Stanford historian Niall Ferguson joins Ian Bremmer on the GZERO World podcast to talk about the geopolitics of disaster. Throughout human history we seem to be unable to adequately prepare for catastrophes (natural or human-caused) before they strike. Why is that? And as we emerge from the greatest calamity of our lifetimes in the COVID-19 pandemic and look to the plethora of crises that climate change has and will cause, what can we do to lessen the blow?

Subscribe to the GZERO World Podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or your preferred podcast platform to receive new episodes as soon as they're published.

Get insights on the latest news in US politics from Jon Lieber, head of Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi barred two Republican members from serving on the Jan. 6 commission. What's going on?

Well, the Jan. 6 commission was designed to be a bipartisan commission, taking input from members from Democrats and Republicans. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy had the opportunity to make recommendations but the Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, could always veto those recommendations. In this case, she did, saying no to two members, Jim Banks and Jim Jordan, both of whom are strongly aligned with President Trump and who voted against certifying the election results in 2020. The Republicans for the most part see the Jan. 6 commission as an opportunity to score political points against them, and the Democrats say this is going to be a fair, non-biased, and nonpartisan investigation into what happened on Jan. 6, starting with a hearing next week with some of the police officers who were involved in the battle with the protesters inside the Capitol.

More Show less

In his New York Times op-ed, David Brooks says the US is facing an identity crisis — protecting liberal and progressive values at home while doing little to stop autocrats elsewhere. But has the US really abandoned its values abroad just because it's withdrawing from Afghanistan? Ian Bremmer and Eurasia Group analyst Charles Dunst take out the Red Pen to argue that the US can advance democracy without being the world's sheriff.

More Show less

When the Tokyo Olympics begin on Friday, Japan watchers will be following more than just the performance of Japan's star athletes, including tennis star Naomi Osaka. They will also be tracking the political fortunes of Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, who is taking a big gamble by staging the event — amid a raging pandemic — in the face of strong and longstanding opposition from the Japanese public. What are the stakes for Suga, particularly with elections on the horizon? Eurasia Group senior analyst Ali Wyne explains.

More Show less

YouTube pulls Bolsonaro's rants: Google-owned YouTube pulled down a series of videos on the channel of Brazil's populist President Jair Bolsonaro, accusing him of spreading misinformation about the pandemic. YouTube removed more than a dozen clips for touting quack cures for coronavirus or claiming, in defiance of scientific experts, that masks don't reduce COVID transmissions. Last year, Twitter and Facebook also removed some content from Bolsonaro's feeds for similar reasons. But critics say that YouTube's move is too little too late, because Bolsonaro has been spreading misinformation about COVID since the pandemic began. Many Brazilians hold him personally responsible for the country's abysmal pandemic response, which has led to almost 550,000 deaths, the second worst toll in the world. Will YouTube's move change Bolsonaro's message? His weekly address to the nation, where he converses not only with government ministers but also various conspiracy theorists and loons, is broadcast on YouTube. Surely he doesn't want to risk losing that — or does he?

More Show less

Boycotts! Bans! Protests! Drugs! Think you've got gold medal knowledge about politics at the Olympics? Test what you know with this special Tokyo Olympics Quiz. And to stay current on all the latest political stories at the Games and around the world, subscribe here to Signal, our daily newsletter. Now, without further ado, the first question is...

More Show less

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter, Signal

GZERO World with Ian Bremmer. Watch episodes now

GZEROMEDIA

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter: Signal

GZERO World with Ian Bremmer. Watch episodes now

GZEROMEDIA

Subscribe to GZERO Media's newsletter: Signal