The Financial Times reported China’s total debt rose to a record 237% 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 Rmb163tn ($25tn) at the end of March, including both domestic and foreign borrowing, according to Financial Times calculations. Such levels of debt, while much higher than other developing economies, are comparable to the US and Eurozone countries. 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% of GDP at the end of 2007.
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