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What lies ahead

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Performance of Western economies has bearing on China's growth, which in turn could have an impact on African and other developing countries

The world economy enters 2013 with significant risks that could blow any nascent signs of recovery off course - with most experts agreeing there is little chance the new year will be the one when we finally see what is now being called the Great Recession in the rear-view mirror.

China's GDP growth has slowed post-Lehman and was down for a seventh successive quarter at 7.4 percent between July and September with the prospects for this year uncertain.

This is because the world's second-largest economy still remains largely dependent on its vital export markets to the United States and Europe.

The euro deal reached in autumn looks to have staved off an immediate crisis but the German election later in the year could lead to policy paralysis before then.

The US has so far proved to be the most buoyant Western economy but with the "fiscal cliff" barely avoided, there remains the risk that recent spurts of growth might prove a false dawn.

Given the interconnectedness of the world, weak Western economies would impact on China and then also emerging markets in Africa, which is now highly dependent on its largest trade partner's demand for commodities.

How China's main stock market will fare in 2013 after another depressing 12 months will also be of interest to investors trying to buy into the China growth story.

The Shanghai Composite Index hit a 46-month low of under 2000 points in November, less than a third of its heady October 2007 high of 6124.

We also look in depth at some of the major issues facing China in 2013 from its ageing population (this year its workforce will fall in number for the first time in recent history) through the prospects for the housing market to the development of new sectors such as green energy.

We will also examine the outlook for trade, foreign direct investment into China and, in turn, the country's investment overseas, the prospects for the internationalization of the yuan, the emergence of a consumer society, research and development and also focus on China's stock exchanges.

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