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Major events of China's policy of reform, opening up
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Chinese leader Hu Jintao has reiterated in a keynote political report that China would persist in the policy of reform and opening up, saying the drive is the only way of developing socialism with Chinese characteristics and rejuvenating the Chinese nation.


The report Hu delivered to the 17th National Congress of the Communist Party of China (CPC) that opened on Oct. 15 is believed to charter a roadmap of China's development in the years to come.


Following are some major events of China's policy of reform and opening up:


-- The Third Plenary Session of the 11th Central Committee of the CPC in 1978 marked the beginning of China's reform and opening-up drive.



The plenum introduced a series of important decisions on reform which represented a turning point in the history of the CPC and New China since its founding in 1949.


-- In December 1978, 18 farmers in Xiaogang village, east Anhui Province, signed a secret agreement to divide people's commune-owned farmland into pieces for household contract.


The practice was supported by Deng Xiaoping, chief architect of China's reform and opening to the outside world, and recognized by the government, which then initiated the system of contracted responsibilities based on the household in rural areas. Xiaogang has since been seen as the pace-setter for the nation's rural reform.


-- China and the United States established diplomatic relations in 1979. Deng Xiaoping visited the United States between January 29 and February 5, 1979, the first visit to the United States by a Chinese leader since the People's Republic of China was founded.


-- On July 15, 1979, the CPC Central Committee and the State Council approved reports on special and flexible policies in foreign economic activities submitted by the Guangdong Provincial CPC Committee and the Fujian Provincial CPC Committee, and decided to set up special economic zones in the cities of Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Shantou, and Xiamen.


The construction and development of special economic zones and opening-up zones have prompted the creation of a group of regional economic growth centers, vigorously bringing along opening up across the country.


-- During his tour to south China in 1992, when China's reform and opening-up drive was at a crucial juncture, Deng Xiaoping firmly pointed out that the goal of following socialism is to pursue common prosperity. Deng delivered a series of speeches to define and clarify what was and how to build socialism in respond to the doubt that to develop special economic zones was a road to capitalism.


-- The rapid growth of external trade has remarkably enhanced Chinese economy's dependence on the international market. In 1996,China's total foreign trade volume accounted for 35.5 percent of its GDP, which represented a fairly high level in the world. It now accounts for nearly 70 percent of the GDP.


-- China entered the World Trade Organization in 2001 to become its 143rd member, 23 years after the launch of the opening-up policy and 52 years after the founding of People's Republic of China.


"China's negotiations for the accession to the multilateral trading system over the past 15 years have been an integral part of the process of its reform and opening up from the beginning to the end," said the then Chinese foreign trade minister Shi Guangsheng.


-- The Chinese government launched reforms of the exchange rate system on July 21, 2005, introducing a managed floating foreign exchange rate system after discontinuing the former forex regime pegged to the U.S. dollar.


The overall aim of the exchange rate reform is to build a managed, floating exchange rate mechanism based on market supply and demand and to maintain the yuan's basic stability at a reasonable equilibrium, said the central bank.


-- China opened its financial sector to foreign banks in December, 2006. Before that, China had dropped its tariffs, canceled its non-tariffs measures and opened up its markets in accordance with the pledge it made when joining the WTO.


-- China's reform and opening up drive was hailed by the World Bank as the largest poverty reduction campaign ever launched in the world history, particularly in reducing its rural population in abject poverty.


Statistics show that in 1978, when the reform and opening-up started, China had 250 million extremely poor people in its countryside, or 30.7 percent of its total rural population. The figure declined to just over 20 million by the end of 2006.


-- Between 1978 and 2006, China's gross domestic product has been growing by an average annual rate of 9.7 percent and the country has developed into the world's fourth largest economy. The volume of foreign trade has increased from 20.6 billion U.S. dollars to 1.76 trillion dollars.

 

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