"Thirty years of reform and opening up have brought about historic changes in China''s development -- the planned economic system has been smashed gradually and a market economic system has basically shaped up, creating a rocketing economy that is now the fourth largest in the world," said Chi Fulin, executive president of the China Institute for Reform and Development.
From 1978 to 2007, China''s gross domestic product (GDP) had grown by 9.6 percent annually from 216.5 billion U.S. dollars to 3.6 trillion dollars. Fiscal revenue had also grown over 44-fold from 113.2 billion yuan to 5130 billion yuan, greatly swelling the nation''s coffers and contributing substantially to China''s enhanced overall national strength.
Although it fell by 1.8 percent over the same period last year, China''s GDP surged by 10.4 percent in the January to June period, when the country saw rising domestic consumption, investment and exports.
More money allowed China to solve its problem of feeding 1.3 billion people. Compared with 1978, grain output had increased from about 300 billion kg to 500 billion kg in 2007. Amid world shortages of food and soaring prices, China''s food supply and prices remain stable.
The World Bank hailed China''s reform and opening-up drive as the largest poverty reduction campaign ever launched in world history. China was particularly recognized for reducing the number of rural people in abject poverty.
Statistics show that in 1978, when the reform and opening-up started, China had 250 million extremely poor people in its countryside, or 31 percent of its rural population. The figure declined to 15 million, or 1.6 percent, by the end of 2007.
While boosting the economy, China has tried to maintain a balanced development, including social security, health and education.
During the past three decades, China has made nine-year compulsory education free throughout the country. It has launched a new type of cooperative medical care system, mainly financed by the government, for the country''s 800 million farmers. China has also set up a system of village and community self-governance for rural and urban residents. It has also introduced in government transparency, democratic oversight and direct elections at the community level, said Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao.
China''s booming economy is providing residents ever rising living standards and a better quality of life.
"Ask people around you, 90 or even 99 percent would say their lives have improved in the past 30 years," said Xuan Yuhong, a farmer of Suixian County, central China''s Henan Province, who built a two-story house recently.
"In the 70s, big cities like Beijing and Shanghai had decaying buildings, full of bicycles day and night, poorly lighted streets, everyone in grey or blue Mao jackets," said 85-year-old Lee Kuan Yew, Singapore''s first prime minister.
"Now China''s cities, those along the coast, have spanking new high-rises, wide motorways, bridges and tunnels across the Yangtze River to Pudong, Maglev train from the new airport in Shanghai to Pudong, colorful dresses for women and men in lounge suits or in blouses and jeans. The people dress like any modern city in Japan, South Korea, or Singapore," said Lee.
INTEGRAL PART OF GLOBAL FAMILY
In addition to enabling the Chinese to lead a better life, China''s gain in prosperity is also good for the rest of the world, former Dutch ambassador to China, Dirk Jan van den Berg said.
"Imagine that China is still closed off from the world, with a quite strained capacity to produce enough food for the Chinese people, we would be facing a completely different situation, perhaps a much more difficult one."
Argemiro Procopio, professor of international relations at Brasilia University, Brazil, said, "In the world today, poor people, who did not have money to buy shoes, buy Chinese shoes and clothes now. And those who did not have money to buy toys for their children are now buying Chinese-made toys because they are cheap."
In 1978, China''s GDP accounted for only one percent of the world economy, whereas its share rose to above 5 percent in 2007. In 1978, China''s share of global trade was less than 1 percent. In2007, its share jumped to about 8 percent.
China''s development has opened a huge market for international capital, attracting over 780 billion U.S. dollars of net foreign investment over the last 30 years. Direct overseas investment by Chinese companies had also grown substantially.
China''s development has boosted growth of the global economy and trade. With imports growing at an average annual rate of 16.7 percent since 1978, China has become the world''s third largest import market and Asia''s top import market.
China now contributes to more than 10 percent of global economic growth and more than 12 percent of global trade expansion. China''s average annual import volume is close to 560 billion U.S. dollars, generating some 10 million jobs for its trade partners, Chinese President Hu Jintao said. "The past 30 years of reform and opening-up have told us that China cannot develop itself in isolation from the world. And it is equally true that the world cannot enjoy prosperity or stability without China," President Hu said.