China has always been something of a puzzle for outsiders owing to its impressively distinct ancient culture, vast size, large number of complex characters in its writing, and peculiar mindset, very dissimilar to the Euro–American way of thinking. China has remained a mystery even for the China watchers in several disciplines, including economics.
China is known to be one of the uncontested growth successes in the past four decades. The gradual implementation of the sweeping reforms of command planning, introduced under the authority of Deng Xiaoping, taking sometimes formal, sometimes informal, though no less decisive positions of rule (Pantsov – Levine 2015: 407–427) has brought about an unprecedented long period of uninterrupted growth. Libraries have been produced on this (Kwong 2019; Piketty et al. 2019; Gang et al. 2019), since this is one of the major explanatory factor of the fact how the number of persons living under absolute poverty – currently defined by the World Bank as being below 1.95 USD a day – has come down by 1 billion, or halved in the 2000 to 2015 period of the Millennium Development Goals of the UN. GNI per head grew between 3.9 and 9.8% per annum prior to the collapse triggered by the Covid-19 pandemics, whose total impact is yet to be assessed at the time of writing (April 2020). Poverty rates, still at 40.7% in 1999 declined to 10.2% by 2014 and 1.7% by 2019 according to the official data.1
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The English translation of ‘Zhongguo’ as the Middle Kingdom (or Middle Empire or Central Kingdom) in European languages in the 16th century and became popular in the mid-19th century. The Chinese were not unique in thinking of their country as central, although China was the only culture to use the concept for their name (Editor's note).
A saying, attributed to Deng Xiaoping, describing the China's approach towards internal reforms and opening.