Not All Revolutions Are Bloody

In China, historical discontinuities and revolutions are nothing new. Leaving aside the fifty hundred centuries that preceded it, even in the past century the changes have been immense: the overthrow of its imperial past in 1912; invasion by the Japanese in the 1930s and their ultimate eviction; a long and bloody civil war between the communists and the nationalists, culminating in the installation of the Communist Party of China as the government in 1949; and the Cultural Revolution between 1966 and 1976.

However, not all revolutions are noisy, bloody, or obvious. The revolution that China underwent once it opened up and undertook serious economic reforms after 1978 was possibly the most remarkable economic transformation in human history. One of the world's poorest and slowest-growing economies turned into one that is, by comparison, well off and (still) growing rapidly. The number of people whose lives have been revolutionized by being lifted out of abject poverty is on an unimaginable scale (more than 10 percent of the world's population), especially given the time frame. History will almost certainly record that China was given too little credit at the time (that is, now) for those achievements. Although some people in China achieved more than others, and there are some serious imbalances in need of correction, hundreds of millions of people have benefited by China embracing what is fundamentally a capitalist economic system—and doing ...

Get China 2.0: The Transformation of an Emerging Superpower ... and the New Opportunities now with O’Reilly online learning.

O’Reilly members experience live online training, plus books, videos, and digital content from 200+ publishers.