When reflecting upon the entire history of human civilization, the 40 years is a mere drop in the bucket. However, this specific time span is ingrained in all Chinese people and has impacted the fate of numerous individuals throughout the country.
Reform and opening-up is a cause all Chinese people share. President Xi Jinping once said, "Every breakthrough and step forward in theory and practice that we make in this cause comes from the experience and wisdom of the people, so does every new thing we bring into being and develop, and every experience we gain."
The reform and opening-up curtain was raised in 1978 by courageous hands led by Deng Xiaoping, a remarkable decision politically driven by the people. 18 farmers left their fingerprints on the contract which allowed them to produce according to each household on the path of rural reform. Since then, reform has emerged as the theme of the times and opening-up became the dominant trend among villages and cities. Fresh concepts and rules continue to rise.
Dramatic and profound changes unfolded beginning in 1978 and running through 2017. Chinese peoples' disposable per capita income increased almost 23 times. The employed population doubled, and a social safety net with the most significant number of beneficiaries in the world was established. Chinese people improved their living standards with the goal of common prosperity during the past decades.
Reform and opening-up ushered in numerous possibilities and opportunities for China. The establishment of a fundamental economic system explores a large number of resources that stimulate productivity and creates social wealth. From the setup of private businesses, to the reform of state-owned enterprises (SOEs), and the pioneering special economic zones (SEZs) in coastal cities, to all-around opening up, and entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO) to burgeoning domestic free trade zones (FTZs), from the shift to an innovation-driven economy to new opportunities in countries along the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), China is a place for innovation and entrepreneurship.
Reform and opening-up not only left deep marks on Chinese lives but also their minds. Emancipating the mind is a major task that leads the way for reform and opening-up, which promotes innovative breakthroughs for theory, institutions, and practices.
Thanks to their willpower, the Chinese masses, led by the Communist Party of China (CPC), continue to deliver economic miracles, spearheading a new round of high-quality opening-up, and breaking new ground in the pursuits of reform and opening-up.
With a population of nearly 1.4 billion, China has strived to catch up with industrial countries and embrace modernization. Within a span of several decades, China has accomplished what developed countries took hundreds of years to achieve. The nation has undergone a tremendous transformation -- it has stood up, grown rich, and become strong, serving as an inspiring chapter in the history of human civilization.
What is the secret behind China's success? Through this 40-year period, the CPC has recognized that the power of the people has been the main artery for development.
Known as a self-made billionaire, Chinese entrepreneur Lu Guanqiu only had 4,000 yuan and six employees at the onset of his career. Facing the era of reform and opening-up, he led his company to grow from a local enterprise to a global powerhouse. More people are walking out of their comfort zone, seizing their destinies, and trying a different way of living.
The report delivered at the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China stated that "we must inspire creativity and vitality throughout society." In the past few years, the Party Central Committee with Comrade Xi Jinping at its core, have devised several strategies, inspiring the passion of struggle for the Chinese dream, and establishing broad platforms for human development. From streamlining government functions and administrations to improving livelihoods, from encouraging innovation and starting businesses to the support of a legal system, hundreds of millions of people have more chances to create their own success.
The 632-meter high Shanghai Tower, a landmark of Shanghai's Pudong New District, bears the names of 4,000 builders during who worked on the skyscraper during its eight years of construction and can be seen in its 60-meter glass Wall of Fame. This new era belongs to strivers. Tens of thousands of innovators, entrepreneurs, and doers promote and uphold China's stable modernization with tireless exploration and innovative action."Poverty is not socialism." Let some get rich first, and others will be brought along during the process. In 1980, Zhang Huamei from Wenzhou, a city of East China’s Zhejiang Province, acquired her first business license for individual industrial and commercial households. The single public ownership economy has been discarded, and a large number of households have sprung up. "To be rich is glorious" quickly became a recognized concept.
The safeguarding of personal interests is highlighted in the definition and protection of property rights. Reopening their eyes to see the world, the Chinese quickly realized that property rights are the cornerstone of a market economy. State-owned enterprise reform has made tremoundous progress, increasing joint ventures and establishing more foreign-funded enterprises while helping private enterprises to become the new force of economic development. Implementing a clear separation between public and private affairs, reformation, confirmation of power, legal protection, and arbitration disputes, has mobilized individual enthusiasm, which has the power to promote the struggle of the whole country and its people.
It is not socialism when only a few become rich. Working out of poverty conditions and achieving common prosperity has always been the pursuit of hundreds of millions of Chinese. Since the reform and opening-up, the number of impoverished people in China's rural regions have dropped 740 million, marking an annual reduction average of 19 million. Rural poverty has dropped by 94.4 percentage points, with an average annual decline of 2.4 percentage points.
Over the past six years, poverty alleviation efforts have made unprecedented contributions with its power, wide-scale, and influence. Statistics show that from 2012 to 2017, the number of impoverished people in rural areas had been reduced by 68.53 million. The poverty reduction rate is close to 70 percent, and the annual poverty reduction average stands at 13.7 million. Poverty rates have dropped from 10.2 percent at the end of 2012 to 3.1 percent by the end of 2017. A reformed and opened-up China has written the ultimate poverty alleviation success story.
Reform and opening-up have unlocked the realm of free development, providing individuals with multiple dimensions for pursuing their own happiness, thus expanding the development potential of the country and society, while realizing the incredible changes.
40 years of reform and opening-up has set numerous overpasses for the free flow of people. Since reactivating the college entrance exam in 1977, some 228 million people have signed up to take the test. Countless others have changed their destiny as a result of taking the exam and enrolling at universities, and are now the backbone of society.
According to a survey, 10 years ago, when China sent three people to study abroad, only one would typically return. Now, 80 percent of those who study abroad willingly to return home. Talents now flow upward thanks to this era of reform and opening-up that values talent and renders China full of vitality.
During this period, creativity and the industrious potential of those who work for state-owned enterprises was activated. Focused on profits and improving management, reducing staff and increasing efficiency, to laying off and reallocation efforts, and also including joint-stock and mixed ownership reforms, all of these characteristics have contributed to China's economy.
Four decades of reform and opening-up has created an open and growing platform for entrepreneurship. While presiding over a symposium on private enterprises in November, President Xi said the private sector's contributions are undeniable for the country to be able to make miraculous achievements in economic development, and the country will unswervingly encourage, support and guide the development of the non-public sector and support private enterprises to develop toward a broader stage. In recent years, China every day has added more than 40,000 market participants at large, of the 18 newly-established unicorn companies in Asia last year, 15 are in China.
A foreign journalist summarized China's 40-year changes with only one word, "choice." Reform and opening-up have given an untold number of people the opportunity to choose, to see a wider world, to achieve a wealthier life, and to embrace a better future.
In October 2018, when visiting an exhibition marking the 40th anniversary of reform and opening- up in Guangdong, General Secretary Xi Jinping emphasized again, "We should be people-oriented. People's happiness should be the criteria for evaluating the result of opening-up and reform. The fruits of opening-up and reform should benefit the general public."
Today we are opening the door of a new era and looking back on the magnificent course of 40 years, for the purpose of starting a promising future for everyone.
"China will not stop its opening-up and reform. China will certainly deliver a bigger miracle that draws worldwide attention," and the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation will surely be realized in the process of reform and opening up. At a new starting point in history, this is a self-confident declaration and commitment of a political party, and also a nation's confidence and determination to face the future.
(Compiled by Chen Lidan, Bao Han and Xu Zheqi)