(October 3, 1999)
THE 20th century is one of earth-shaking
changes for China. Thanks to the pioneering work and arduous
efforts by the People's Republic of China over the past 50
years, especially over the last 20 years or so since the
beginning of reform and opening-up, the overall national
strength and the living standards of the people have been
improved in no small ways. Now, the Chinese people are
advancing with big strides along the path of building
socialism with Chinese characteristics. It is our strategic
objective to basically realize modernization and build China
into a prosperous and strong socialist country with a high
degree of democracy and civilization by the middle of the
On the occasion of celebrating
the 50th anniversary of the founding of the People's
Republic of China, we are proud of our achievements. The
following facts and figures show that we have a lot to
A Substantially Stronger Nation
Over the last 50 years China has become a
substantially stronger nation with its people enjoying
higher standards of living.
reached 7.9553 trillion yuan (about 964 billion U.S.
dollars) in 1998, 50 times that of 1949 (Industry has
increased by 381 times, and agriculture, by 20.6 times).
Taking into account price changes, China's economy has been
growing at an annual rate of 7.7 percent, more than doubling
the world's average of 3.3 percent. Reports from the World
Bank show that China ranked 7th in the world in terms of
economic growth and development in 1997.
improved national strength enabled China to withstand the
sweeping Asian financial crisis, helping it keep its
renminbi stable, which has been conducive to the recovery of
the Asian economy and to the stability of the world economy.
Rising World Trade Power
early 1950s, China had trade relations with only about 60
countries and regions. Its trade partners were mainly the
former Soviet Union and other socialist countries, because
of the economic blockade by the West. At present, the
country's trade partners have increased to 227.
In the early 1950s, China's annual import and
export values stood at only several hundreds of millions of
U.S. dollars. By 1998, the figure had risen by more than 300
times to hit 323. 9 billion dollars.
the world's 11th largest trade power in 1998, compared to
the 32nd in 1978.
The country's foreign
exchange reserve, which was a mere 840 million dollars in
1979, soared to 150 billion dollars by August 1999.
By July 1999, China had approved 334,000
overseas-invested enterprises with contractual investment of
594.81 billion and actual investment of 288.94 billion
dollars. From 1993 to 1998, China ranked second in the world
and first among developing countries in attracting foreign
investment for six consecutive years. Nearly 400 of the
world's top 500 transnational companies have opened business
or invested in China.
One-Fifth World Population The 1.25 billion Chinese (about
one-fifth of the world's total) have basically solved the
problem of food and clothing with only about 7 percent of
the world's arable land.
The per capita share
of grain, meat, eggs and milk for the Chinese people has
exceeded or neared the world average, meaning that China has
basically solved the food problem which has affected it for
hundreds of years.
The per capita share of
grain, meat, eggs and milk for the Chinese people is,
respectively, over 400 kilograms, 50 kilograms, 17 kilograms
and 6.6 kilograms.
People Living Better and
The rapid economic growth has brought
about a much more comfortable life for the Chinese people.
In China, the number of people living below
the poverty line dropped from 250 million in 1978 to 42
million in 1998. Most of those in poverty live in remote
areas with poor resources and a bad environment that pose a
serious challenge to any poverty-relief efforts. Another 20
million people will be out of poverty by the end of 2000.
In the 1950s, the annual per capita
consumption stood at only 80 yuan on average, while the
current figure is 3,000 yuan. The most popular commodities
for the ordinary people have shifted from bicycles and
watches to personal computers and automobiles. For every 100
families, there were 100.48 color television sets, 72.98
refrigerators, 165.74 electronic fans and 89.12 washing
machines, according to 1997 statistics.
space per capita in urban areas soared from 3.6 square
metres to 8.8 square metres between 1978 and 1997. Rural
residents' living space per capita rose from 8.1 square
metres to 22.46 square metres during the past two decades.
The life-span of the Chinese people has
lengthened and their health improved considerably. The
population's average life expectancy has increased from 35
years before 1949 to 71 today, higher than the world average
of 64 years, while the death rate dropped from 33 per
thousand before 1949 to 6.5 per thousand at present.
Urbanization Speeding Up
urbanization has progressed quickly in the past two decades,
due to the reform and opening up policy. Cities have become
the backbone of the national economy.
number of cities grew from 193 in 1979 to 668 in 1997. The
proportion of city inhabitants in the total population grew
from 12 percent in 1978 to 43.8 percent in 1997.
More Opportunities to Achieve Individual Value
Today the Chinese people have large latitude
in choosing jobs - in different units, different cities, or
even different countries.
Fewer barriers to
the flow of labor has alleviated the pressure from large
numbers of surplus laborers in rural areas and accelerated
urbanization. The government is preparing to adjust its
rigid residence registration system to further encourage the
flow of labor and talent to benefit economic and social
Floating rural laborers have also
helped to spread technology and information, stimulate
demand for consumer commodities, and increased the flow of
funds between city and country and the exchange of modern
management experience. The most significant result of such
mobility is the change of farmers' outlooks.
For urban workers, in large cities and coastal
regions, switching jobs has become an easy and popular way
to give full rein to talent through fair competition.
The development of private economy has also
created more jobs. By late 1998, there were 1.2 million
private enterprises employing 17 million people. And there
were 31.2 million small businesses by 1998 with 61.1 million
Constantly Improved Education and
Before 1949, more than 80 percent
of Chinese adults were illiterate. Now the illiteracy rate
among the young and middle aged is 6 percent. The enrollment
rate of school-age children was only 20 percent before 1949.
The rate jumped to 98.9 percent in 1998.
present, among every 10,000 people, there are 25.7 college
students, 566 middle school students and 1,132 pupils, as
compared with the numbers of 2.2, 23.4 and 450 in 1949.
These figures exclude the 2.82 million students in
institutions of higher learning for adults, 2.51 million
students in adult vocational schools, and 86.82 million
students in technical training schools.
1949, China, with a population of more than 500 million, had
only 3,000 medical organizations with a total of 80,000
hospital beds and 500,000 medical workers, averaging 1.5
hospital beds per 10,000 people and less than one doctor per
1,000 people. By the end of 1998, the country had registered
310,000 medical institutions, with a total of 3.14 million
hospital beds and 4.42 million medical workers, including
1.41 million doctors.
Opening Wider to the
China will, as always, actively
participate in international economic cooperation and
improve the all-direction, multi-dimension, wide-range
opening-up pattern. On the basis of lowering import tariffs
for 9 times, China will further reduce its import tariffs
for industrial products to 15% next year, and to 10% before
the year 2005.
China has opened more areas for
foreign-funded banks to deal in Chinese currency RMB
business and for pilot projects of Sino-foreign joint
ventures in foreign trade. In future, it will provide
opportunities for trade in services such as foreign
investments in banking, insurance, tourism, retail, foreign
trade and legal service while stepping up the opening-up
efforts in energy, transportation, communications and other
infrastructure industries. It will further improve the
system of laws and regulations on foreign investment,
protect the rights and interests of foreign-funded
enterprises in strict compliance with law, protect
intellectual property rights and improve service for
foreign-investment enterprises, so as to create a better
environment for foreign businessmen in China.
With a population of over 1.25 billion, China
offers a huge market to foreign businesses. With the steady
progress in economic and social development, the enormous
potentialities of the Chinese market will be further tapped.
The total import volume for the coming 7 years is expected
to reach US$1.5 trillion.