China Economy  


Main Crops: Rice, wheat, potatoes, sorghum, peanuts, tea, millet, barley, cotton, oilseed; pork; fish .

Natural Resources:
Coal, iron ore, petroleum, natural gas, mercury, tin, tungsten, antimony, manganese,molybdenum, vanadium, magnetite, aluminum, lead, zinc, uranium, hydropower potential (world's largest)

Major Industries: Iron and steel, coal, machine building, armaments, textiles and apparel, petroleum, cement, chemical fertilizers, footwear, toys, food processing, autos, consumer electronics,telecommunications

In late 1978 the Chinese leadership began moving the economy from a sluggish Soviet-style centrally planned economy to a more market-oriented system. Whereas the system operates within a political framework of strict Communist control, the economic influence of non-state organizations and individual citizens has been steadily increasing. The authorities have switched to a system of household and village responsibility in agriculture in place of the old collectivization, increased the authority of local officials and plant managers in industry, permitted a wide variety of small-scale enterprise in services and light manufacturing, and opened the economy to increased foreign trade and investment. The result has been a quadrupling of GDP since 1978. In 2001, with its 1.27 billion people but a GDP of just $4,300 per capita, China stood as the second largest economy in the world after the US (measured on a purchasing power parity basis). Agriculture and industry have posted major gains, especially in coastal areas near Hong Kong and opposite Taiwan, where foreign investment has helped spur output of both domestic and export goods. On the darker side, the leadership has often experienced in its hybrid system the worst results of socialism (bureaucracy and lassitude) and of capitalism (windfall gains and growing income disparities). Beijing thus has periodically backtracked, retightening central controls at intervals. The government has struggled to (a) collect revenues due from provinces, businesses, and individuals; (b) reduce corruption and other economic crimes; and (c) keep afloat the large state-owned enterprises many of which had been shielded from competition by subsidies and had been losing the ability to pay full wages and pensions. From 80 to 120 million surplus rural workers are adrift between the villages and the cities, many subsisting through part-time low-paying jobs. Popular resistance, changes in central policy, and loss of authority by rural cadres have weakened China's population control program, which is essential to maintaining long-term growth in living standards. Another long-term threat to continued rapid economic growth is the deterioration in the environment, notably air pollution, soil erosion, and the steady fall of the water table especially in the north. China continues to lose arable land because of erosion and economic development. Beijing will intensify efforts to stimulate growth through spending on infrastructure - such as water control and power grids - and poverty relief and through rural tax reform aimed at eliminating arbitrary local levies on farmers. Access to the World Trade Organization strengthens China's ability to maintain sturdy growth rates, and at the same time puts additional pressure on the hybrid system of strong political controls and growing market influences. Although Beijing has claimed 7%-8% annual growth in recent years, many observers believe the rate, while strong, is more like 5%.