The dramatic folding of the Chinese property developer giant Evergrande Group shows just how bad China’s economic crisis has become.
It has heightened anxiety at home and abroad over a possible domino effect emanating from the world's second-largest economy.
Optimism for a Chinese economic recovery was high after the country lifted all COVID-19 restrictions a few months ago. However, it was short-lived.
A dilapidated real estate sector and losses of $7tn in the financial market, including $1.5tn of losses in January alone (a decline of about 35% in about three years) – prompted Chinese President Xi Jinping to intervene to prevent a further snowballing effect in the economy.
However, massive debt coupled with Beijing's tendency to seize every available opportunity has held the country back from realising the full potential of an extraordinary growth boost of more than 6% annually.
Case in point, the Hang Seng Stock Index opened this year down 7.5% marking a lousy start. The same goes for the decline of the CSI 300 Index by 6%.
China’s debt has exceeded the threshold of 75% of GDP of about $18tn – of which $13tn is borne by municipalities in 12 localities.
Meanwhile, the risk of default is increasing as growth is expected to decrease to 4.6% this year, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF), down from 5.2% in 2023.