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China to celebrate economic miracle that pulled 700 million people out of poverty


China has pledged more economic reforms to push growth higher and help offset any impact from the US trade conflict. It comes as the world’s second-largest economy marks the 40th anniversary of “reform and opening up” this week.

Statistics show that more than 700 million Chinese people have shaken off poverty since Beijing started its program of economic reforms four decades ago. The figure accounts for over 70 percent of global poverty reduction during that period.

The first wave of reform, which lasted from 1978 to 1989, was characterized by agricultural reform and revival of the private sector. The second wave of reform (from 1992 to 2012) resulted in the legalization of the market economy, China’s accession to the WTO, and a booming private sector.

China’s record in poverty reduction since reform and opening up is without parallel in human history, according to Wang Yiwei, professor of the School of International Studies at Renmin University.

“Between 1978 and 2017, China’s economy expanded at an annual average 9.5 percent growth rate, increasing in size almost 35 times,” he told Xinhua News.

The total expansion of China’s economy over a 39 year period was almost three times as much as Japan’s, Ross noted, adding that “No other economy commencing sustained rapid economic growth even remotely approaches the 22.3 percent of the world’s population as China had in 1978 at the beginning of reform and opening up.”

Experts, including those from the Chinese Commerce Ministry, say Beijing should stick to the reform and opening up policy if it wants to resolve trade tensions with the United States.

“Over the decades, our thoughts on reform and opening up should have been updated. The economic growth and better standards of living [achieved] should have provided very solid evidence [of the need] to continue with reforms and opening up,” said He Ning, a former Chinese Commerce Ministry official dealing with US issues.

The trade war with the US has undermined investor confidence in China and clouded growth prospects. China’s growth has slowed in the third quarter of this year to its lowest in a decade and is expected to continue slowing down in the fourth quarter and the first half of 2019.

Authorities, who met last week, are aiming to focus on the “powerful home market” to drive growth through trade turmoil. They plan to accelerate economic reform and push forward with “all-around opening-up,” according to Xinhua News report.

It pointed out that in 2019 Beijing aims to control financial risks, curb pollution and further reduce poverty. The government will try to keep economic growth within a reasonable range and work to stabilize employment, finance, trade, investment and market expectations, the report stated.