How Xi Jinping's China stacks up with the rest of the world

Updated 5:07 AM ET, Wed October 18, 2017

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Hong Kong (CNN)In a pivotal three-hour speech, China's President Xi Jinping on Wednesday painted a rosy picture of the country's accomplishments over the past five years.

But how does China really stack up with the rest of the world when it comes to the economy, the environment and its military?
When Xi assumed leadership of the ruling Chinese Communist Party in late 2012, the country was in pretty good shape.
While the 2008 financial crisis and subsequent recession had taken its toll on China's economy, it still grew by 7.8% in 2012, and the year before had overtaken Japan to become the world's second-largest economy.
The biggest challenges facing Xi were largely internal -- corruption, party factional disputes, and environmental. The first two he dealt with quickly, by launching a (some say self-serving) anti-corruption campaign and centralizing power to make himself the most powerful Chinese leader since Mao Zedong.
And while the environment remains a major issue, with water pollution and smog particular concerns throughout China, Xi's government does appear to be taking action, and he has positioned himself, rhetorically at least, as something of a global climate leader, in contrast to US President Donald Trump.
How else has China changed during Xi's first five years in power, and how does it stack up against other major economies?


China has transformed from a socialist system where workers could be secure in "iron rice bowl" jobs -- their employment and welfare supposedly guaranteed for life -- to a freewheeling and often brutal capitalist system with record levels of labor unrest.
Up to 40 million jobs were cut in the state sector from 1995 to 2002, and while many were able to find employment in private businesses, others saw the ground give way beneath them and stable futures slip away.
Unemployment is therefore an even more sensitive topic in China than most countries, and one Xi has grappled with since he assumed power. Analysts say that worker unrest is one of the chief concerns of Beijing, and the party has worked to avoid similar mass layoffs.
While unemployment has seen a marginal improvement under Xi, from 4.13% in 2011 to 3.95 this year, that may not last.
The government said last year it wants to cut at least 1.8 million coal and steel jobs in an effort to reduce excess capacity in those sectors.
Beijing has also taken aim at "zombie firms," state-owned companies which have stopped operating but keep staff on the rolls to avoid social unrest. Some reports have suggested as many as five million further jobs could end up being cut.
While unemployment remains a major concern, overall economic growth has been solid, and average incomes have increased from $5,060 in 2011 to $8,260 in 2016.
The government also appears to be getting income inequality under control. While still one of the most unequal countries in the world, the gap between richest and poorest has shrunk slightly over Xi's first term.