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    • Overview:
      Beginning in late 1978 the Chinese leadership has been trying to move the economy from the sluggish Soviet-style centrally planned economy to a more productive and flexible economy with market elements, but still within the framework of monolithic Communist control. To this end the authorities switched to a system of household 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 strong surge in production, particularly in agriculture in the early 1980s. Industry also has posted major gains, especially in coastal areas near Hong Kong and opposite Taiwan, where foreign investment and modern production methods have helped spur production of both domestic and export goods. Aggregate output has more than doubled since 1978. On the darker side, the leadership has often experienced in its hybrid system the worst results of socialism (bureaucracy, lassitude, corruption) and of capitalism (windfall gains and stepped-up inflation). Beijing thus has periodically backtracked, retightening central controls at intervals. In 1992-94 annual growth of GDP accelerated, particularly in the coastal areas - to more than 10% annually according to official claims. In late 1993 China's leadership approved additional long-term reforms aimed at giving more play to market-oriented institutions and at strengthening the center's control over the financial system. In 1994 strong growth continued in the widening market-oriented areas of the economy. At the same time, the government struggled to (a) collect revenues due from provinces, businesses, and individuals; (b) keep inflation within bounds; (c) reduce extortion and other economic crimes; and (d) keep afloat the large state-owned enterprises, most of which had not participated in the vigorous expansion of the economy. From 60 to 100 million surplus rural workers are adrift between the villages and the cities, many barely subsisting through part-time low-pay 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 the nation's long-term economic viability. One of the most dangerous long-term threats 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.

    • National product:
      GDP - purchasing power parity - $2.9788 trillion (1994 estimate as extrapolated from World Bank estimate for 1992 by use of official Chinese growth statistics for 1993-94; because of the difficulties with official statistics in this time of rapid change, the result may overstate China's GDP by as much as 25%)

    • National product real growth rate:
      11.8% (1994 est.)

    • National product per capita:
      $2,500 (1994 est.)

    • Inflation rate (consumer prices):
      25.5% (December 1994 over December 1993)

    • Unemployment rate:
      2.7% in urban areas (1994); substantial underemployment

    • Budget:
      deficit $13.7 billion (1994)

    • Exports:
      $121 billion (f.o.b., 1994)

        textiles, garments, footwear, toys, machinery and equipment, weapon systems

        Hong Kong, Japan, US, Germany, South Korea, Russia (1993)

    • Imports:
      $115.7 billion (c.i.f., 1994)

        rolled steel, motor vehicles, textile machinery, oil products, aircraft

        Japan, Taiwan, US, Hong Kong, Germany, South Korea (1993)

    • External debt:
      $100 billion (1994 est.)

    • Industrial production:
      growth rate 17.5% (1994 est.)

    • Electricity:

        162,000,000 kW

        746 billion kWh

        consumption per capita:
        593 kWh (1993)

    • Industries:
      iron and steel, coal, machine building, armaments, textiles and apparel, petroleum, cement, chemical fertilizers, consumer durables, food processing, autos, consumer electronics, telecommunications

    • Agriculture:
      accounts for almost 30% of GDP; among the world's largest producers of rice, potatoes, sorghum, peanuts, tea, millet, barley, and pork; commercial crops include cotton, other fibers, and oilseeds; produces variety of livestock products; basically self-sufficient in food; fish catch of 13.35 million metric tons (including fresh water and pond raised) (1991)

    • Illicit drugs:
      illicit producer of opium; bulk of production is in Yunnan Province (which produced 25 metric tons in 1994); transshipment point for heroin produced in the Golden Triangle

    • Economic aid:

        to less developed countries (1970-89) $7 billion

        US commitments, including Ex-Im (FY70-87), $220.7 million; Western (non-US) countries, ODA and OOF bilateral commitments (1970-87), $13.5 billion

    • Currency:
      1 yuan (Y) = 10 jiao

    • Exchange rates:
      yuan (Y) per US$1 - 8.4413 (January 1995), 8.6187 (1994), 5.7620 (1993), 5.5146 (1992), 5.3234 (1991), 4.7832 (1990)

        beginning 1 January 1994, the People's Bank of China quotes the midpoint rate against the US dollar based on the previous day's prevailing rate in the interbank foreign exchange market

    • Fiscal year:
      calendar year

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Revised 13-August-1997