By Dr. Mohamad Zreik
Rather than a country on the verge of greatness, China is currently the world’s greatest nation. Every region on the planet was penetrated by China peacefully and without interfering in the affairs of states, the Chinese did not fall into their advance or establish subordinate governments and did not participate in military action outside their borders.
Since China’s economy has risen to the top of the global economy in a very short period of time, it has become one of the most distinctive and original worldwide models of its type, thanks to the economic miracle achieved in such a short period of time.
China’s transition from a planned or controlled economy that failed to meet its growth goals to a market economy based on almost fair competition has been a long and tough process. Everything else in the world has dried up, leaving just Chinese commodities to reign supreme. China’s economy would be affected if it ceased exporting to the world’s markets for whatever reason, especially to the nations that consume all of its products.
China became a global economic powerhouse in the early years of the twenty-first century. About 700 million people have been lifted out of poverty since its industrialization began in the 1970s, and it is now the world’s most populous country and the greatest donor to global development efforts, which began with a primarily agricultural economy. Since the late 1970s, China has been the world’s second-largest exporter and the second-largest economy, and it prioritized the modernization of its economy above all else in its goals. As a result, it has steadily shifted away from relying only on exports.
China has attracted substantial foreign investment, developed new production capacities in sectors that meet local and global demand, and has completed the process of developing sectors by abandoning central planning in favour of a market economy, mobilizing its enormous human resources, and making massive investments to modernize industry and develop infrastructure. Economic progress in China from underdevelopment to competition with the world’s main economic powers was aided greatly by the Chinese economy’s experience from 1949 to the present day.
Chinese economic and technical advancement has accelerated rapidly, and it has maintained an annual growth rate that has been the world’s best for decades. Today, China is the world’s factory because of cheap labour and huge population, which has allowed the Chinese economy to flourish more than any other. On the other hand, there are many obstacles and problems that meet this tremendous experience of economic and social change.
Careful Planning of the Rise
Many phases have been marked by certain qualities that have helped the Chinese economy expand and thrive. In addition to attracting foreign capital and advanced technology, learning from other countries’ successful economic planning and management practices, encouraging state institutions to compete in global markets, and promoting internal reform and economic development, China has declared that opening up to the outside world is one of its primary policies.
In order to fulfil its aims, a 70-year development plan was devised, based on the realities of China. China’s progress during the past 70 years has been broken down into seven time periods. The roots of China’s new democracy and the stage of socialist reform were established during the first phase, which lasted from 1949 to 1957. This was a “first exploration of what it will be the Chinese economy formed later”.
The second stage began between 1958 and 1965, when China witnessed a shift towards constructing its economy. During this time, the greatest contradiction in Chinese society emerged: the enormous gap between people’s economic and cultural aspirations and what the state can produce.
However, the third and final phase, which lasted from 1966 to 1977, was known as the “Great Cultural Revolution phase,” and was characterized by huge economic losses and upheaval in China’s growth.
When it comes to China’s economic growth, the fourth stage, which began in 1978 and lasted until 1992, is the most significant and influential in the country’s history; four important things happened during this time period: economic transformation and development became the primary focus, rural economies began to undergo reform, special economic zones were established, and a Chinese model of development based on a planned commodity economy was achieved.
It was during this time, from 1992 to 2001, that China transitioned from a free market to a planned economy based on actual market requirements rather than abstract ideas.
From 2001 to 2012, the Chinese economy underwent a major transition as it joined the World Trade Organization and expanded its economic horizons. This was the most critical moment in China’s economic development.
Since 2012, China’s economy has entered a new age, where the focus is on establishing a high-quality economy and executing innovation-driven growth policies.
The Chinese progress during the previous seven decades was remarkable. As a result, “China’s economy has continued to grow in size and the nation has developed from a trailing country to the second strongest economy in the world.”
Chinese economic growth from 1960 has been close to Indian economic growth until approximately 1996, then saw a surge to ascend to Japanese economic levels and then passed over them to reach US economic levels.
The rapidity of economic expansion, making China the worldwide leader in economic growth, and becoming a driving element for sustainable development at the global level are also included among the accomplishments. Upgrading the industrial structure of the Chinese economy and aiming towards shared growth were also mentioned in the list of accomplishments.
No other country in the previous 70 years has made the qualitative jump that China did in upgrading its economy and moving from agriculture-related sectors to machine-dependent ones. Chinese economic openness and the injection of Chinese wealth overseas have made China a significant trade power, drawing and exporting international capital as well.
An Export Giant
China has experienced a surge in import and export, from the relative delay in the world to the first position in the world in export and the second in import. Chinese people’s quality of life has improved tremendously over the years, as the income of urban and rural inhabitants has grown greatly, the urbanization rate has climbed, and the poverty rate has fallen dramatically. As a result, China’s pace of human growth and technical advancement grew to the greatest levels in the world, as did the country’s number of researchers and developers.
China’s rapid economic growth has, on the other hand, boosted its worldwide stature and influence, as its role in global development and safeguarding of the international system grows stronger by the day.
China has been a pioneering development experience for more than four decades, moving from an economy based primarily on agriculture to the world’s factory and lifting approximately 700 million people out of poverty. It is now the world’s most populous country (1.38 billion people); the largest contributor to global growth, the largest exporter in the world, and it is the second largest economy, moving China from underdevelopment to parity with the world’s main economic powers.
For the third-world nations whose economic development plans are still faltering, the Chinese experience in growth has served as guidance and a model of development that could flourish independently and without isolation. The Chinese economy, however, is predicted to overtake the United States as the world’s largest economy in the following years and decades, despite several barriers and problems that may hamper its progress.
Dr. Mohamad Zreik has PhD of International Relations, he is independent researcher, his area of research interest is related to Chinese Foreign Policy, Belt and Road Initiative, Middle Eastern Studies, China-Arab relations. Author has numerous studies published in high ranked journals and international newspapers.
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect IFIMES official position.