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Reform oriented, evolving ‘China path’ contributes to nation’s economic success
Author :  Sheng Bin Source : Chinese Social Sciences Today 2017-02-09
Despite the economic impacts brought by such incidents as the Asian financial crisis, the US sub-prime mortgage crisis and the European sovereign debt crisis, China is still one of the fastest-growing and most-promising economies in the world, opening up a path of its own.
Historical experience shows that the “China path” features an organic combination of universal laws of modern industrial civilization and special milestones for the development of a socialist country as well as its salient political attribute of governance by CPC leadership. With Chinese characteristics, it is distinct from the growth model of Western capitalist countries and other developing nations.
The “China path” was not shaped all at once. In the early stages of reform and opening up, China adopted many progressive, reliable and roundabout reform methods. The largest obstacle looming in the exploration of the path were the restrictions of stereotyped concepts.
Aware of the reality, China strived to eradicate various dogmas, emancipate the mind and seek truth from facts while making decisions and acting on economic rules. Hence, the ambitious goal of building a socialist market economy mechanism with Chinese characteristics was set. Meanwhile, opening up in coastal areas, foreign investment inflow, accession to the WTO and participation in regional economic cooperation became vital forces driving domestic institutional reform and innovation.
The objective of the “China path” is to change the role of the market in social resource allocation from fundamental to decisive through sustained reform deepening and opening up in a bid to ultimately realize national prosperity. The “reform mindset” is the recipe for creating the “China path.” It determines the fate of contemporary China and provides a strong impetus and guaranty for developing the path.
The “China path” has retained robust endogenous momentum all along, from the initial rural systemic reform and urban economic reform to the massive market-oriented reform in the mid-1990s. It continued to evolve through domestic institutional reform undertaken to fully integrate China into global economy after it entered the WTO as well as the current round of arduous, comprehensive deepening of reform.
This is a result of benign interaction and integration between the Chinese people’s pioneering spirit and the wisdom of national top-level design.
The “China path” is not closed. It sufficiently draws upon advanced international experience. More importantly, China has never forgotten its goals and interests. Its market-oriented reform in the fields of taxation, currency and finance, trade and investment is a process of connecting to the world and sharing a “discourse system,” as exemplified by its active effort to integrate into the global economic system through entry into the WTO.
At present, China is deepening institutional innovation and reform by means of pilot free trade zones and trying new international trade and investment rules through high-standard free trade and investment agreements, which exactly reflects its adherence to keep up with the times and great foresight.
In the meantime, China must take into full account its own interest needs, including social stability, economic security, industrial upgrading, national economy, State-owned enterprises, balanced regional development, independent innovation, environment and ecology, and poverty alleviation. These are the core interests of China that are fundamental to its long-term growth.
The “China path” has significant implications for the world. It breaks the traditional idea that the economy can only grow on a single model, thus contributing to the diversification of development models and offering precious experience for narrowing the development gap.
China did not follow the Western model blindly, but hewed out a unique market economy reform path. In contrast, the widely believed “Washington Consensus” has failed to work in some developing countries. Western-style democratic institutions, free market economics, rapid price reform, large-scale privatization, radical trade and finance liberalization, and the flexible exchange rate system have by no means resolved problems facing developing countries. Instead, they have left undesirable legacies, like political turbulence, loss of economic independence, hyperinflation, unemployment.
On the contrary, China has created an economic growth miracle because it has adjusted policies to national conditions, advanced with the times, devised its own development model and realized it independently. By grounding the country in reality, attaching importance to reform, respecting theory and practice, and applying doctrines critically, China has made admirable achievements.