chapter  1
14 Pages

Introduction

The rapid transformation of the Chinese economy since 1978 has been con­ sidered by many as a “miracle.” Between 1978 and 2008, the Chinese economy grew by an average rate of 9.7 percent per annum.1 In the meantime, China has been transformed from a planning economy to a mixed economy where resource allocation is mostly done by the market. That is, China has accomplished most of the objectives of the “Big Bang” in Eastern European countries and the former Soviet Union while avoiding its catastrophic consequences. In addition, China’s economic growth by far has been inclusive, manifested in particular by its fast reduction of poverty from 250 million 30 years ago to below 70 million today. There have been many efforts trying to explain China’s economic success. This volume is one of those efforts. The chapters included in this volume are from a conference “Thirty Years of Reform and Development in the PRC: Ret­ rospect and Prospects” held in the China Center for Economic Research, Peking University, on October 25 and 26, 2008. The aim of the conference was to review China’s reform and development experience and see whether it is trans­ ferrable to other developing countries. This feature distinguishes this volume from other studies on China. However, it was not the purpose of the conference to reach a conclusive answer to the transferability question; rather, it aimed at bringing a new angle to the studies of the Chinese experience and inviting other developing countries to treat the Chinese experience as a reference point for their own development. The authors contributing to the volume have diverse views on the transferability of the Chinese experience depending on which aspects of the Chinese experience they emphasize. In a sense, no single country’s experience is transferable, because each country has its own unique historical, cultural, and political heritages that inevit­ ably shape its development trajectory. China is more so, not just because it has a long history, but also because it has just come out of great turmoil lasting most of the twentieth century. Yet one may be able to do more than completely reject transferability when one takes a more analytical view of a country’s experience. The papers collected in the volume are part of the efforts in that direction. In this introduction, we provide a concise review of the chapters. Our purpose is not to find commonalities among those chapters, but to give the reader an over­ view of the volume. There are 14 chapters grouped into three parts in the volume.