Cores, Peripheries and Peaceful Rising
The final phase of Maoist-style state-socialism saw the fall of the ‘Gang of Four’ and the rapid ascent to power of Deng Xiaoping, who was a long-time elite player in the Chinese Communist Party and was styled a pragmatist. Deng inaugurated a reform programme. It had a number of elements including agricultural reforms, urban reforms and diplomatic reforms that opened China to the wider global system. Crucially, the state-directed planned economy was reformed, and aspects of a competitive, market-oriented system were progressively introduced. Special Economic Zones were established in coastal sites. These reforms enjoyed rapid success and gathered pace down the years. There were also expectations of political reforms, but these were abandoned after the 1989 Tiananmen Square debacle. But Deng’s reforms opened the way for rapid development, producing a mix of sought for rapid economic and social change along with an associated spread of familiar problems such as uncoordinated development, corruption and pollution. In total these reforms can be read as the Beijing elite embracing a variant of the East Asian developmental state model of development, state-directed growth for national development, and it is a model that became entrenched and followed by subsequent leaders. These reforms lifted millions from poverty, made China an emergent great power and cost the country in terms of environmental pollution, widespread corruption and the persistence after a number of domestic protests of a restricted political sphere.
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