China's economy is expected to grow by 2.0 percent in 2020, up from the 1-percent growth projection released in June, the World Bank said on Monday.
The growth will be boosted by government spending, strong exports, and a low rate of new COVID-19 infections since March, but checked by slow domestic consumption, the World Bank said in the October 2020 Economic Update for East Asia and the Pacific (EAP).
The rest of the region, however, is projected to contract by 3.5 percent, according to the report. The region as a whole is expected to grow by only 0.9 percent in 2020, the lowest rate since 1967.
In the semi-annual Global Economic Prospects released in early June, the World Bank projected that the EAP region will grow by 0.5 percent in 2020.
The World Bank said in the regional update that prospects for the region are brighter in 2021, with growth expected to reach 7.9 percent in China and 5.1 percent in the rest of the region, "based on the assumption of continued recovery and normalization of activity in major economies, linked to the possible arrival of a vaccine."
The multilateral lender, however, pointed out that output is projected to remain well below pre-pandemic projections for the next two years, noting that the outlook is particularly dire for some highly-exposed Pacific Island countries where output is projected to remain about 10 percent below pre-crisis levels through 2021.
The COVID-19 shock is not only keeping people in poverty, but also creating a class of "new poor," the World Bank noted. The number of people living in poverty in the region is expected to increase by as many as 38 million in 2020 -- including 33 million who would have otherwise escaped poverty, and another 5 million pushed back into poverty.
"Many EAP countries have been successful in containing the disease and providing relief, but they will struggle to recover and grow," said Aaditya Mattoo, chief economist for East Asia and the Pacific at the World Bank.
"The priorities now should be safe schooling to preserve human capital; widening narrow tax bases to avoid cuts in public investment; and reform of protected service sectors to take advantage of emerging digital opportunities," Mattoo said.