Thursday, December 18, 2008

Three Decades of Reform

It was thirty years ago this month when Deng Xiaoping kicked off his reform era on the landmark Third Plenary Session of the Eleventh Congress of the Communist Party. The anniversary is marked with a grandiose conference in Beijing today. In his keynote speech, President Hu Jintao predictably vowed not to turn back the reform and not to copy the Western-style democracy either.

But the official People's Daily appeared to have other ideas. It headlined Hu Jintao's speech as an "eulogy" for the reform.

The Associated Press compiled a chronology of China's reform era:

1978: Economic, social and cultural reforms launched under Deng Xiaoping, two years after the death of Mao Zedong. GDP per capita is 381 yuan.

1979: U.S. and China establish diplomatic relations. One-child policy introduced.

1980: First special economic zone established in Shenzhen.

1982: Population surpasses 1 billion.

1986: Deng promotes "open-door" policy to encourage foreign investment.

1988: Spiraling inflation and corruption prompt limits on foreign investment and monetary flows.

1989: Students protest in Tiananmen Square to demand economic, political and social change. Hundreds believed killed in ensuing crackdown.

1990: Communist China's first stock exchange opens in Shanghai.

1992: Deng makes southern China tour to relaunch economic reforms in face of criticism from conservatives.

1994: China connects to the Internet.

1996: Chinese currency becomes convertible.

1997: Deng dies. Jiang Zemin takes over. China regains control of Hong Kong.

1998: China injects $500 billion into its faltering banking sector.

1999: Government outlaws Falun Gong.

2001: China joins the World Trade Organization.

2002: Entrepreneurs allowed to join the Communist Party.

2003: Hu Jintao replaces Jiang as president. SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) breaks out in China and eventually kills nearly 800 worldwide. China's first manned spacecraft orbits the earth.

2004: The United Nations estimates 1 million Chinese are infected with HIV.

2005: China becomes the world's fourth-largest economy. The government stops pegging the currency to the U.S. dollar.

2006: Three Gorges Dam and railway to Tibet are completed. China's foreign exchange reserves reach $1 trillion, becoming world's largest.

2007: China tops the world with 210 million Internet users. GDP per capita reaches 18,900 yuan ($2,760).

2008: Sichuan earthquake kills 70,000 people. Beijing hosts Olympic Games.

No comments: