©2018 Institute of World Economics and Politics, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences
China & World Economy / 1–22, Vol. 26, No. 2, 2018
*Fang Cai, Senior Fellow, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, China. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Perceiving Truth and Ceasing Doubts:
What Can We Learn from 40 Years of
China’s Reform and Opening up?
China’s reform, opening up and resultant economic growth in the past 40 years have
led to the accumulation of an immense array of experiences, which economists are
obligated to look into, analyze and theorize upon. In fact, the rich literature in this
area has positively assessed and documented China’s successful experiences. However,
theories that were established in Western countries have been applied as doctrine to
judge China’s experiences. By adopting an analytical framework unifying historical
logic and theoretical logic, the purpose of this paper is to reveal the unique Chinese
experience and its relevance to the general laws of economic development. Based on the
experiences of and in reference to research ndings about China, this paper chronicles
the process of reform, opening up and economic growth, and analyzes the nexus between
them. The study demysties how the incentive mechanism, the factor accumulation and
allocation system, market development, and macro policy environment reforms have
spurred China’s economic growth, structural changes and the increase in productivity.
The changes in development stage are examined and policy implications for further
reform are discussed.
Key words: Chinese economy, demographic dividend, reform and opening up
JEL codes: O40, O53, P11
It has been commonly stated that the Chinese economic reform started in the late
1970s and the early 1980s. Taking two symbolic events as a milestone, one can more
specically mark the year 1978 to be the starting point of the reform.
First, the 11th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) held
its 3rd Plenum from 18 to 22 December 1978. This meeting re-established the CPC’s
ideological line of emancipating the mind and seeking truth from facts, and the