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China's rise all started with “Open Door” policy

Editor: Qian Ding 丨CCTV.com

06-13-2018 10:30 BJT

By Tom McGregor, CCTV.com Panview commentator and editor

Editor's note: 2018 marks the 40th anniversary of China's 'reform and opening up' that opened the doors for a more prosperous China that helped hundreds of millions of Chinese citizens escape poverty as the nation had enjoyed rapid economic growth and development. CCTV.com takes a closer look at Beijing's comprehensive reforms with a series of special reports focusing on various fields where tremendous changes have taken place ever since the introduction of the policy.

For everyone familiar with the economic miracle and increasing diplomatic prestige of China, it's considered common knowledge the nation had emerged as a powerhouse sovereign state after introduction of the government's 'reform and opening up' declaration that was formally introduced by the late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping in December 1978 at the Third Plenary Sessions of the 11th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC).

In the late 1970s, Chairman Mao had died while the government was seeking new solutions to rejuvenate the domestic economy and willing to sweep in dramatic structural reforms, such as encouraging free market activities and allowing numerous state-owned enterprises to go bankrupt if they were not competitive in the market.

The transformation of Chinese society required bold courage and support from all citizens, should it have any chance to succeed. Before introduction of Deng's "Open Door" policy, many Chinese had expected state-run companies would offer lifetime employment for workers.

So when new government measures were introduced, the so-called "iron rice bowl" lifetime employment was no longer guaranteed and many Chinese had lost jobs working for the government and they had to learn new job skills and attitudes in order to obtain gainful employment in the private sector.

The high-risk political maneuver was fraught with peril placing the nation's social stability and public security at risk if the Chinese could not adapt to a freer market economy.

Deng's winning vision

What made Deng's move more daring was that his attendance at the Third Plenum was a moment when his recognition as leader of China remained in doubt, but his announcement of China's "Open Door" policy had demonstrated his footprint on the nation's top leadership position in the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China. Just imagine, you are Chinese living at that day in age.

Deng's declaration to march ahead on reform and opening up was a stunning shift away from the previous rigid egalitarian regulations and suddenly the Chinese were told by Deng in one of his most famous quotations, "let some people get rich first."

The statement in itself had surprised many Chinese, but upon further reflection they saw the value in its true meaning. If they sought to make China a strong nation, they must do their part by seeking more fortune to instill greater productivity in all domestic sectors to jumpstart economic activity and consumption that in return would improve living standards for the Chinese people as a whole.

There’s no shame in getting rich, so long as you can create more happiness and comfort for others to maintain the harmonious society that the Chinese favor. Boosting wealth in local communities, and that could spread to the surrounding regions and bring win-win benefits for more and more people.

Deng's declaration for the "reform and opening up" policy served as the crucial element to give hope to the Chinese so they can become wealthy with dignity.

From Declaration to Implementation

The challenge for all governments when charging ahead on reform and opening up would be to address how its citizens can adapt to transformational changes as many would bear some suffering in the process.

Hence, the Chinese government did not change overnight, but implemented measures in stages so as to avoid too much shock to the country. The first stage in the years 1978 to 1984 had targeted agricultural reforms, privatization of State-owned Enterprises (SOEs), encouraging an entrepreneurial spirit and trying to attract more Foreign Direct Investments (FDI).

Later on, starting in the latter-half of the 1980s, Beijing pushed ahead on more reforms, such as developing special economic zones, paving the way to set up China as a manufacturing and exporting super power.

In future articles on the 40th anniversary of China’s reform and opening up policy we can address many other factors that had led to the country's emergence as a major engine of growth for the entire global economy.

But for starters, we highlight here how Deng's vigorous stand to introduce the "Opening Doors" policy was risky at the time, but proved pivotal for China's rise. China is a success story today, because of Deng's reforms and the world is so much richer for it.

(The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Panview or CCTV.com. )

Panview offers a new window of understanding the world as well as China through the views, opinions, and analysis of experts. We also welcome outside submissions, so feel free to send in your own editorials to "globalopinion@vip.cntv.cn" for consideration.

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