The 30 years that transformed China

This month marks the 30-year anniversary of economic reforms launched by late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping that have turned China today into one of the most powerful countries in the world. In late 1991, the New York Times reported that Deng told China’s Economic Daily: In the end, convincing those who do not believe in ...

591091_081215_china1a5.jpg
591091_081215_china1a5.jpg

This month marks the 30-year anniversary of economic reforms launched by late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping that have turned China today into one of the most powerful countries in the world. In late 1991, the New York Times reported that Deng told China's Economic Daily:

In the end, convincing those who do not believe in socialism will depend on our nation's development. If we can reach a comfortable standard of living by the end of this century [the 20th], then that will wake them up a bit. And in the next century [the 21th], when we as a socialist country join the middle ranks of the developed nations, that will help to convince them. Most of these people will genuinely see that they were mistaken.

Fast-forward to 2008: China has been doing astoundingly well, but people in developed countries aren't exactly admitting to being mistaken about socialism. Rather, "communist" China has learned how to play the capitalist game -- well.

This month marks the 30-year anniversary of economic reforms launched by late Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping that have turned China today into one of the most powerful countries in the world. In late 1991, the New York Times reported that Deng told China’s Economic Daily:

In the end, convincing those who do not believe in socialism will depend on our nation’s development. If we can reach a comfortable standard of living by the end of this century [the 20th], then that will wake them up a bit. And in the next century [the 21th], when we as a socialist country join the middle ranks of the developed nations, that will help to convince them. Most of these people will genuinely see that they were mistaken.

Fast-forward to 2008: China has been doing astoundingly well, but people in developed countries aren’t exactly admitting to being mistaken about socialism. Rather, “communist” China has learned how to play the capitalist game — well.

To see a timeline of China’s economic advances during the past three decades, check out FP‘s latest photo essay, “China’s 30 Years of Economic Overdrive.”

AFP/Getty Images, China Photos/Getty Images

Preeti Aroon was copy chief at Foreign Policy from 2009 to 2016 and was an FP assistant editor from 2007 to 2009. Twitter: @pjaroonFP

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