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Four Decades of Reform and Opening up: China's Unique Development Path and Enlightenment

The economic miracle created by China’s reform and opening up

Four decades of China’s reform and opening up has created an economic growth miracle. From 1978 to 2017, China’s economic growth averaged 9.5% annually, with GDP rising from RMB 367.9 billion to RMB 82.7 trillion, up by 223 times. Merchandize trade growth averaged 14.5% annually, with total value of merchandize trade rising from $20.6 billion to $4.1045 trillion, up by 198 times. The international status of China’s economy also rose rapidly. In dollar terms, China’s economy surpassed Japan’s in 2009 and became the second largest economy in the world. China’s exports value surpassed Germany’s in 2010, making China the largest exporting country worldwide. In terms of total trade, China surpassed the U.S. and became the largest trading nation in 2013. In terms of dollars, China’s GDP amounted to nearly $13 trillion in 2017, or 65% of U.S. GDP. However, in terms of purchasing power parity (PPP), China already surpassed the U.S. in 2014 to become the largest economy in the world. In 2017, China’s GDP per capita reached $8,800, 37 times greater than the $229 level in 1978. During this period, 700 million people escaped poverty (using the international standard of $1.25 per person per day).

Under a stable and pro-growth environment created by reform and opening up, over four decades of exploration and hard work, the diligent, perseverant, and intelligent Chinese people forged a unique path to prosperity, driven by their desire for a better life.
China’s journey to a prosperous nation has garnered worldwide attention and has become the research object of economic development. China’s journey of reform and opening up in the past four decades reflects the rich content as well as the Chinese philosophy about what needs to be changed and what needs to remain constant. There are several salient characteristics. First, while the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party is steadfastly upheld, system reform and structural innovation are being actively pursued, symbiotically combining the basic principles of socialism and market economy. Second, while actively attracting foreign investment, opening markets, and engaging in international economic exchange and cooperation, national characteristics have been well maintained by adhering to develop with the elements of self-reliance and national conditions. Third, actively learning from advanced international experience and ideas as well as aligning with international practices by both “bringing in” and “going abroad” while sticking to core socialist values, promoting Chinese culture and establishing a national spirit centered on patriotism. Four, insisting on peaceful development, conforming to international norms, and respecting the interests of different countries while using mutual benefit and sharing the future as a basis for international cooperation.

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Content provided by Bank of China (Hong Kong)
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