Chinese Economic Reform (Template:Zh-sp) refers to the program of economic changes called "Socialism with Chinese characteristics" in the mainland of the People's Republic of China (PRC) that were started in 1978 by pragmatists within the Communist Party of China (CPC) led by Deng Xiaoping and are ongoing as of the early 21st century. The goal of Chinese economic reform was to generate sufficient surplus value to finance the modernization of the mainland Chinese economy. Neither the socialist command economy, favored by CPC conservatives, nor the Maoist attempt at a Great Leap Forward from socialism to communism in agriculture (with the commune system) had generated sufficient surplus value for these purposes. The initial challenge of economic reform was to solve the problems of motivating workers and farmers to produce a larger surplus and to eliminate economic imbalances that were common in command economies. Economic reforms started since 1978 has helped lift millions of people out of poverty, bringing the poverty rate down from 53% of the population in 1981 to 8% by 2001.
Chinese economic reform has been undertaken through a series of phased reforms. In general, these reforms were not the results of a grand strategy, but as immediate responses to pressing problems. In some cases, such as the closing of state enterprises, the government has been forced by events and economic circumstances to do things that it did not want to do. As of 2005, 70% of China's GDP is in the private sector. The relatively small public sector is dominated by about 200 large state enterprises concentrating mostly in utilities, heavy industries, and energy resources. .
Although Chinese economic reform has been characterised by many in the West as a return to capitalism, Chinese officials have insisted that it is a form of socialism, because to do otherwise would call into question the validity of Marxism and the legitimacy of the regime. However, they have not argued against the premise that many of the reforms involve adopting economic policies that are in use in capitalist nations, and one of the premises of Chinese economic reform is that China should not avoid adopting "whatever works" for ideological reasons.
In addition, many of the economic structures that have been created in the course of Chinese economic reform may appear superficially similar to those found in other nations, but are in fact quite unique.
History of Chinese economic reform Edit
The first reforms in the late 1970s and early 1980s consisted of opening trade with the outside world, instituting the household responsibility system in agriculture, by which farmers could sell their surplus crops on the open market, and the establishment of township village enterprises. The reforms of the late 1980s and early 1990s focused on creating a pricing system and decreasing the role of the state in resource allocations. The reforms of the late 1990s focused on closing unprofitable enterprises and dealing with insolvency in the banking system. After the start of the 21st century, increased focus has been placed on the gap between rich and poor in China.
Chinese economic reform, unlike perestroika, has been an economic success, generating over two decades of rapid economic growth. The standard of living of most Chinese has improved markedly since 1978. The CCP goal of modernization also seems to be moving forward. Throughout China one can witness the rapid modernization of infrastructure, including new superhighways, airports, and telecommunications facilities. Shanghai now has a magnetic levitation train, the first commercial maglev in operation in any country.
Chinese economic reform has consisted of a large number of different changes. There are several principles which appear to underlie the program. The first is pragmatism, which is embodied in Deng Xiaoping's dictum to seek truth from facts. The criteria for success are determined by experiment rather than by ideology. The second is incrementalism. Instead of announcing and implementing a national program, typically, an idea is implemented locally or in a particular economic sector, and if successful it is gradually adopted piecemeal throughout the nation.
The first parts of Chinese economic reform involved implementing the household responsibility system in agriculture, by which farmers were able to retain surplus over individual plots of land rather than farming for the collective. This was followed by the establishment of township and village enterprises, which were industries owned by townships and villages. An open door policy was introduced by which the PRC began to allow international trade and foreign direct investment. These initiatives immediately increased the standard of living for most of the Chinese population and generated support for later, more difficult, reforms.
The second phase of reform occurred in the 1980s and was aimed at creating market institutions and converting the economy from an administratively driven command economy to a price driven market economy. This difficult task of price reform was achieved using the dual-track pricing system, in which some goods and services were allocated at state controlled prices, while others were allocated at market prices. Over time, the goods allocated at market prices were increased, until by the early-1990s they included almost all products.
In the 1990s, the focus of the reform was to create a viable banking system which could control the economy via monetary policy and issue loans on the basis of profit and loss, rather than by political orders. In the late-1990s and early-2000s, the focus was also on industrial reform, which involved the painful closing of unprofitable state-owned factories and the development of social security systems.
China has already formed a big tourism industry which keeps up with global trends. China's tourism has made remarkable progress in business organization, management skills, and the fostering of tourism markets. The latest figures show the fixed assets of the tourism industry reached 786.1 billion yuan, with 268,000 tourism businesses. There are now 8,993 travel agencies and over 33.35 million tourism employees in China
Comparison to Perestroika Edit
Chinese economic reforms occurred at almost the same time as perestroika in the Soviet Union, yet perestroika has been widely judged to be a failure while Chinese economic reform has been widely considered to be a success. This is largely because the Soviets largely focused their efforts on developing heavy industry, which only affects a small group. In China the emphasis was on agriculture and light industry, which produces immediate winners because the goods produced are consumed by a large portion of the population.
Public perception of reformsEdit
Because of the loss of iron rice bowl jobs due to the reforms, many people were initially opposed to further liberalisation of the economy. Protestors at the 1989 Tiananmen Square Incident included workers who felt that reforms had gone too far and threatened their livelihoods. Now however, according to a study done by the Program on International Policy Attitudes, University of Maryland, 74% of Chinese surveyed feel that free market is the best economic system, the highest percentage among the 20 nations surveyed. For comparison, 71% of people surveyed in the United States felt the same.
Cause of ConcernEdit
It must be noted that although the living standard for everyone in China has drastically increased in comparison to ther pre-reform era, so has the wealth disparity. Many foreign and domestic Chinese scholars and researchers claimed that the lack of necessary political reforms that are desperately needed to support of the economic reforms is one of the major reason of the rampant corruption in China, which results in corrupted cadres and their associates acquiring wealth at a much faster pace than most people in China. Such accumulation of wealth via illegitimate means has fueled widespread discontent and accelerated the polarization of wealth distribution in China. By the Chinese government's own admission, by the late 1990's, China had already became the second country in the world to have the most polarized wealthy disparity (Zimbabwe was the first), and by the mid 2000's, it has surpassed Zimbabwe and climbed to the number one spot. This fact was supported by the findings of the official Chinese governmental statistics, which was first released during the All-China First Plenatary Session of the Tenth Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference held between March 3, 2003 and March 14, 2003 in Beijing by its standing committee member Mr. Chen Mingde (陈明德), and subsequently published on the Xinhua net, the website of Xinhua News Agency. According to the released findings, by the end of 2000, the Gini coefficient had already reached 41.7%, above the danger level of 40%. In addition, there were only 3.5% of the 1.3 billion people in China who earned more than ¥20,000 (approximately $2,500, $11,000 PPP adjusted) annually, while 50% of the 1.3 billion population earned less than ¥2,000 (approximately $250, $1,100 PPP adjusted) annually. This information is further strengthened by the investigative report on the wealth disparity for Chinese families performed jointly by all of the Chinese branches of the Boston Consulting Group on the Chinese government's behalf, and the result of this investigative report was released on October 17, 2006 and it was published on numerous Chinese media such as periodicals like the Chinese Youth. According to the report, the top 0.4% of the Chinese families (about 1.5 million) own over 70% of the nation's wealth, while in contrast, in most developed nations, the top 5% of the families own around 60% of the total wealth.Template:Cite needed Therefore, the wealth disparity is more than 15 times worse than the West. Furthermore, the report only included the obvious assets such as real estate, stock, bank accounts, salaries, and personal properties such as cars and furnitures. The income in the grey area (i.e. illegal and semi-legal / questionable) was not included because it was extremely difficult if not impossible to calculate, and had such income had been included, the wealth disparity would even be much greater.
The problem of extreme wealth disparity proved to be one of the biggest problem of the Chinese economic reform and it even has prompted some hard-line conservatives in China to advocate the return of MaoismTemplate:Cite needed, but the general populace on China, despite not having benefitted as much as the most wealthy, still strongly prefer free market economy and support further reforms, as shown by studies such as the one done by the Center for International and Security Studies at Maryland, University of Maryland, as mentioned earlier.
- Special Economic Zone
- Economy of the People's Republic of China
- Social issues in the People's Republic of Chinaja:改革開放
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