China’s Economy: 60 Years of Progress

Prominent Chinese economist Wu Jinglian, covered in this recent CDT post, has written an analysis China’s economy since 1949 in this weekend’s edition of Caijing.

From the piece’s introduction, by Caijing editors:

During most of the 60 years of modern China’s development, much time has been spent on carrying out various economic reforms. From original struggles to system reform to developing a market system while maintaining the system of public ownership and a planned economy, and then on to a complete transformation to a market economy, the direction has been clear for a long time, and the end goals have gradually become more apparent. Property rights reform, market (pricing) reform, enterprise reform, and reform of the political system, working together, have to a great extent unleashed vitality in the national economy and led to an average growth rate of close to 10 percent per year for the past 30 years. The rapid pace of development has allowed China to become the world’s third-largest economy.

Still, the going is toughest toward the end of any journey. The road to reform for China’s economy is far from complete: Reform on property rights still has a long way to go, and many key decisions such as energy prices, interest rates and exchange rates are still tightly controlled by the central government. Reforms for state-owned enterprises in certain monopolized industries such as energy, telecoms and banking are even harder to push forward. Government and government-owned entities still control a major part of the national economy’s resources. Incomplete reforms are one root cause of social problems such as corruption, social inequalities, economic imbalance and environmental deterioration.

Despite China’s phenomenal success over the past 60 years, problems will accumulate unless national economic reforms are thoroughly implemented. It could be hard to avoid falling short of success during the last big push despite great accomplishments during the 31-year period of reform and opening up. If this happens, China’s economy will lose a dependable foundation.


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