China’s total debt rose to a record 237 percent of gross domestic product in the first quarter, far above emerging-market counterparts, raising the risk of a financial crisis or a prolonged slowdown in growth, economists warn.
Beijing has turned to massive lending to boost economic growth, bringing total net debt to Rmb163 trillion ($25 trillion) at the end of March, including both domestic and foreign borrowing, according to Financial Times calculations.
Such levels of debt are much higher as a proportion of national income than in other developing economies, although they are comparable to levels in the U.S. and the eurozone.
While the absolute size of China’s debt load is a concern, more worrying is the speed at which it has accumulated — Chinese debt was only 148 percent of GDP at the end of 2007.
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