The Chinese Economy 1983–97


Map Code: Ax02313

Years of centralized control and international isolation had resulted in a moribund and hugely inefficient Chinese economy, but when in 1979 the ‘sleeping giant’ was awoken by free-market reforms and foreign investment and trade, it began to achieve astonishing rates of growth. Farmers were allowed to sell produce in a free market, local enterprises were released from state planning and control, citizens were encouraged to start new businesses, and development zones were introduced, especially along the coast. In 1985 Deng Xiaoping’s regime introduced a System of National Accounting (SNA) to measure and study the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and appointed a leading Japanese-trained economist Fengbo Zhang to head a new Macroeconomic Research Group and advise the government on reforms. In the 15 years from 1983 to 1997, China achieved an average annual growth rate of over 10 per cent and its per capita GDP multiplied over five times. The World Bank described the country’s rise as “the fastest sustained expansion by a major economy in history.”

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