China was the first country to be hit by the coronavirus pandemic. Its economy may now be the first to recover. A better-than-expected growth of 3.2 per cent was posted in the second quarter from a year earlier. Led by industry and infrastructure spending, it amounted to a sharp reversal from the first quarter’s contraction of 6.8 per cent, an impressive growth compared to other major economies still suffering from the devastation wrought by the pandemic. Economists have warned that it may be too early for Beijing to start uncorking champagne. After all, consumer spending and exports have been subdued while growth has been uneven across industrial sectors. The job market showed only marginal improvement last month with one out of five people in their early 20s being unemployed. It is possible a rebound will hit a plateau in the next two quarters. Even so, China’s recovery is still a significant positive for global growth. It may not come to the rescue of the world economy like it did more than a decade ago, in the aftermath of the global financial crisis. It will still play a large role in global recovery. This may be something for Washington to keep in mind as it rallies allies and friendly governments to “contain” and “punish” China, for any number of real or imagined infractions. There seems to be a divergence between international economics and politics. The latter has become toxic, if not dangerous, especially between China and the United States. But direct foreign investment is expected to pick up on the mainland for the rest of the year. It fell 1.3 per cent year on year in the first half of the year, but is likely to recover from now on. In a letter to top international business leaders, President Xi Jinping has personally promised that China will stick to “peaceful development”, continue economic reform and deepen the opening of its domestic market to foreign investors. Between China and the West, there are many thorny issues to resolve. But if there is a common interest, it is that everyone needs to rescue their economy. Is China’s second quarter GDP as rosy as it seems? It is easy to paint China as the bogeyman but people should recall the leading role played by China in helping the world economy recover last time. In 2009, 2010 and 2012 China’s global demand exceeded that of the US and the European Union combined. In 2011 and 2013, it was the single largest contributor to global GDP growth. Foreign critics like to point out that China is still recovering from its debt binge, neglecting to mention that what they criticised might have helped their economies recover. It is unlikely China will step up to the plate again. However, economic recovery can still be the common ground for all sides to build consensus and repair relationships.