chapter  3
From central state monopoly to local state competition
Pages 28

In 1979, China began to dismantle its closed, planned economy and at the same time to open itself to the outside world. China’s record of economic growth has since appeared to keep continuously upward over the course of the intervening years. But behind this seemingly smooth economic growth curve were numerous institutional changes and experiments that had to take place to ensure the overall curve fl owing upward year by year. China’s reform approach is widely regarded to be a gradualist one, and there are multiple ways to understand gradualism: First, gradualism means that the reform process should take a long time, and the pace of reform should be slow. Second, while new institutions would be introduced during the reform process, some of the old institutions would have to be kept at least for a while even if they are not consistent with the immediate direction for reform. The maintenance of some old institutions is necessary if they are essential to stabilizing the current economic, social, and political order. Third, radical reform measures should be applied only to selected fi rms, sectors, or regions in the fi rst place, and a unifi ed reform nationwide would be instituted if the preliminary experiments were found to work.