Business in China

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Economic reform in the 1990s focused primarily on the heavy-industry state-owned enterprises (SOEs) The Company Law was enacted at the end of 1993 to regulate activity in limited liability and joint stock limited companies. Entrepreneurial activity also grew, and by the end of the decade private businesses, virtually banned during the Maoist era, numbered more than I million according to the All-China Federation of Industry and Commerce, which oversees this sector. Private businesses are now considered an important component of the socialist market economy of China. When their employees are combined with those working in the tiny family-owned businesses, called geti (individual businesses), the total number of workers they employed in 1998 was close to 15 million, according to the State Statistical Bureau. At its 50th anniversary the People's Republic of China faced several possible future scenarios. Rigid control by the government and the party with continued crackdowns on dissidents and social stability at all costs has been favored by Jiang. Passivity is another scenario, although economic pressures make this less likely. Regionalism is a third alternative: the great regional differences in economic development may lead to geographic schisms. Finally, a social eruption seems increasingly a likely possibility: an estimated 150 million are now looking for work but with low qualifications. They are increasingly restive as they see others enjoying great economic gains while many state employment opportunities have been closed. The central government in Beijing still faces the challenges of managing the enormous number of unemployed, eliminating rampant corruption, regulating the unevenness of the economic growth which has benefited the cities and coastal areas more than the poor interior, and building a legal system. The loss of authority by local cadres has weakened the government's control over population growth, which will be a serious problem for China's...
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