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Innovative development of economics in New China

Author  :  ZHANG ZHUOYUAN     Source  :    Chinese Social Sciences Today     2019-10-17

Ever since the founding of the People’s Republic of China, especially since reform and opening up, the field of economics in China has embraced an unprecedented prosperity in pace with the rapid development of the nation’s economy and the comprehensive advancement of the society. Chinese economics, over more than 70 years of innovative development, has demonstrated the following features. 

First, theoretical study, the choice of an economic path, and major policy decisions supporting socialist economic construction are all built on a correct understanding of China’s fundamental situation. Seven decades of socialist construction practices have proven that it is crucial to have an accurate grasp of China’s basic national situation. Socialism with Chinese characteristics has been established based on the basic dimensions of the Chinese context—that China is still and will long remain in the primary stage of socialism.

China made great achievements in the first 30 years of economic construction. After the Third Plenary Session of the 11th Central Committee of the CPC, a series of major strategic decisions have all been made on the affirmation that China is still and will long remain in the primary stage of socialism. Since reform and opening up, China has adopted a policy of coexistence among the individual economy, the private sector and the public economic sector, creating hundreds of millions of jobs and unlocking and developing the social productive forces. The 15th National Congress of the CPC in 1997 further established a basic socialist economic system in which public ownership is dominant and different economic sectors develop side by side, confirming the individual economy and private economic sector is an important part of the socialist market economy. After years of economic construction, China has gradually realized that the development of a socialist commodity economy and market economy has been an inevitable stage in China’s socio-economic development, and China must make full use of the market mechanism to elevate the efficiency of resource allocation. 

Second, China has set mid-term development goals that suit the characteristics of China’s current stage. For example, China has decided to build a moderately prosperous society in all respects by 2020. The practices in the last 20 years have proven that this decision is wise. China’s GNI per capita exceeded 1,000 dollars for the first time in 2001. The number reached 9,732 dollars in 2018. This demonstrates another perspective on the miracle of economic growth brought by China’s reform and opening up. Building a moderately prosperous society in all respects, as an important part of the theoretical system of socialism with Chinese characteristics, is an example of seeking truth from facts.

Third, the task of reform and opening up has motivated the construction and development of the discipline of economics. The prosperity of economics in China since 1949 has been brought about by socialist construction, particularly the great task of reform and opening up. 

In the early years since the founding of the PRC, Chinese scholars were exploring a unique path of socialist construction for China. Innovative ideas were proposed regarding such issues as the relationship between the planned economy and the law of value. In the early stage of reform and opening up, researchers in all sectors of society, particularly in economics, contributed to the heated discussion on such issues as the relationship between the planned economy and the market as well as the possibility of developing a market economy in socialist countries. The CPC set the reform goal of establishing a socialist market economy system in 1992. This major theoretical innovation broadened the vision of socialist economic theory with Chinese characteristics, becoming a major theoretical pillar of China’s reform and opening up.

Fourth, China has continued to enrich and develop socialist economic theory with Chinese characteristics by keeping pace with the times. The development of China’s economic theory has kept pace with the practices of China’s development and its reform and opening up. The most prominent achievement has been the continually evolving understanding of the issue of development. Deng Xiaoping proposed the great strategic thought of “Development is an unyielding principle.” The leadership of the third generation with Comrade Jiang Zemin as the core took development as the top priority and the key to resolving all problems in China. In the beginning of the 21st century, the CPC Central Committee with Hu Jintao as general secretary proposed the Scientific Outlook on Development, trying to achieve in a scientific way a development that puts people first and is comprehensive, coordinated and sustainable. 

Since the breakout of the international financial crisis in 2008, China has faced a more pressing mission of transforming its growth pattern and adjusting its industrial structure. Since the 18th CPC National Congress in 2012, China’s economy has entered a “New Normal.” President Xi Jinping has proposed that China must pursue with firmness innovative, coordinated, green and open development. The new vision for development is the latest achievement and another major innovation in China’s theory of development.


Zhang Zhuoyuan is a CASS Member of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.



(Edited by CHEN ALONG)

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