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China watchers are waiting to see whether the country has engineered a soft landing, cooling down an overheating economy and achieving a more sustainable rate of growth, or whether Asia's dragon will crash to earth, as others in the neighbourhood have before it. But some, particularly American politicians in this election year, focus on only one thing: China's trade balance. Not long ago the yuan was substantially undervalued, and China's trade surpluses were very large. That situation is changing. Forces of adjustment are at work in the economy, so foreign perceptions need to adjust as well. China's trade surplus peaked at $US300 billion in 2008, and has been declining ever since. February data showed a $US31 billion deficit, the largest since 1998. It is clear what has happened. Ever since China rejoined the global economy three decades ago, its trading partners have been snapping up its manufacturing exports because low wages made them super-competitive. But, in recent years, relative prices have adjusted…


Frankel, Jeffrey A. "Laws of Economics Catching Up With China." The Age, March 27, 2012.