Why Chinese Reforms Will Stay The Course

As Chinese President Xi Jinping gave his highly-anticipated speech on Monday on the 40th anniversary of Chinese reforms and opening-up policies, it was closely watched internationally in light of the 90-day truce in the U.S. trade wars.

Xi called the pursuit of reform and opening-up and socialism with Chinese characteristics “a milestone in realizing the Chinese nation's rejuvenation.” He emphasized the importance of innovation, which has been prominently displayed by world-class productivity in the Greater Bay Area of South China, and international cooperation, as evidenced by the One Road One Belt initiative that’s fueling 21st century globalization.

In particular, Xi’s speech was very clear about China’s historical debt to Deng Xiaoping other reformers – and the need to go further.

China’s pragmatic transitions

In Chinese modern history, it was Sun Yat-sen, the founding father of the nation, who paved the way for sovereignty with his “three principles” of nation, democracy and socialism. But followingr imperial disintegration and Western colonialism, these efforts could be started only after world wars, Japanese invasion and a Civil War.

When in 1949 Mao Zedong could finally declare that “the Chinese people have stood up!”, China began the march to a new future. In the early 1950s, Mao’s economic policies unleashed state-led industrialization, which started promisingly but stagnated amid the Cold War polarization. In historical view, Mao’s crucial contribution was the establishment of Chinese sovereignty.

Already by the early 1960s, foreign minister Zhou Enlai called for the “Four Modernizations” in agriculture, industry, defense, and science and technology. These reforms started in the late ‘70s, when Deng Xiaoping initiated the “reform and opening” era, with the Special Economic Zones (SEZs) first in Southern China, then in Shanghai, Beijing and elsewhere.

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Disclaimer: Dr. Dan Steinbock is an internationally recognized strategist of the multipolar world and the founder of Difference Group. He has served at the India, China and America Institute ...

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