A succession of dynasties ruled China from the second millennium BC to the early 1900s. Chinese history changed course, however, as Europeans expanded into Asia.
China suffered through clashes with European powers in the 1800s. Then, in 1911, Chinese revolutionaries overthrew the last dynasty. The country suffered internal strife for nearly four decades due to warlords, civil war and Japanese invasion. In 1949, the Chinese Communist party won the civil war and established China's current government.
The Communists implemented many social and political changes, starting in the 1950s with the transition to a planned economy. Leader Mao Zedong launched a "Cultural Revolution," in which young loyalists attacked intellectuals and party leaders.
In the late 1970s, the Chinese government introduced economic reforms, introducing elements of a free-market economy. The government also encouraged foreign investment. That laid the groundwork for the modern China we see today.
The "economic miracle"
China's economic engine has really been in overdrive for much of the last two decades the payoff of the 1978 decision by Deng Xiaoping to adopt free-market reforms. But it's only in recent years that the public at large has taken notice. The China story has simply become so big that it's impossible to escape.
Its GDP is growing by 10 per cent a year. Industrial production is galloping ahead at an annual rate of 17 per cent. Its economy is now the second-biggest in the world, behind only the U.S., and there are predictions it will assume the top spot as early as 2020.
China's integration into the world economy has been astonishingly rapid. Since its adoption of the "Four Modernizations" a generation ago (agriculture, industry, science and technology, and defence) China's share of world economic output has grown from 3.4 per cent to almost 12 per cent in 2000.
Its admission into the World Trade Organization in late 2001 has only served to... [continues]
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