China’s export and import figures illustrate a two-speed post-pandemic global economic recovery, with the mainland in the fast lane. Exports grew by 9.9 per cent in September year on year including a 20 per cent rise to the United States, sustaining a similar growth rate in August. Imports beat forecasts by surging 13.2 per cent , the strongest growth since December. They signalled a robust recovery in domestic consumer confidence, and also reflected a consumption binge during the eight-day holiday that launched the fourth quarter. Other big markets face the threat of being stalled in the slow lane by renewed outbreaks of Covid-19, even after an expected third-quarter comeback in the United States. It remains to be seen what impact this has on the Chinese economy, but it has already benefited from lockdowns and social distancing around the world, with booming electronics shipments for those who learn and work from home, and hefty sales of personal protective equipment. The only major economy to have avoided a recession this year, as the pandemic forces lockdowns and cripples businesses, China is on track to maintain annual economic growth, even if only of 1-2 per cent. Its relatively quick recovery is testament to the ultimate effectiveness of measures such as strict lockdowns and tracking policies often reluctantly embraced elsewhere, notably in the US, where President Donald Trump remains obsessed with blaming China for the consequences while claiming Covid-19 is about to disappear. Coronavirus hit to global trade ‘deeper but not as long’ as thought Having led global recovery from the pandemic, China is now leading a world economic recovery. If this is not to lose momentum other nations must step up measures against further waves of infection and avoid a premature lowering of defences. The growth in exports was the strongest since March 2019, when they expanded by 14.2 per cent. Increasing bilateral tensions failed to dampen trade with the US during September, with China’s American imports rising by 24 per cent from a year earlier and exports surging by more than 20 per cent. China has been purchasing huge volumes of American farm goods over recent months under the terms of the phase one trade deal. The latest surge in China-US trade figures adds perspective to recently published remarks by outspoken former Chongqing mayor Huang Qifan, who said the US was unlikely to launch a financial war against China because it would hurt itself more. China’s economic and financial links with the US were too valuable for the US business community and investment banks for Washington to cut, despite attempts by politicians to decouple the world’s two largest economies, Huang told a conference organised by the Chinese Association of Small and Medium Enterprises.