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Open Door Policy

Deng Xiaoping set in train the transformation of China's economy when he announced a new "open door" policy in December 1978.

Before then, China's main trading partners had been the USSR and its satellites.

Deng realised that China needed Western technology and investment, and opened the door to foreign businesses who wanted to set up in China.

As a first step, four special economic zones were authorised in southern China with tax incentives to attract foreign capital and businesses, much of which came from overseas Chinese in places like Hong Kong and Taiwan.

Coupled with domestic agricultural reforms, China's economy took off.

Since the early 1980s it has recorded one of the fastest periods of economic growth in world history, although the figures are often disputed.

In 2001, China joined the World Trade Organisation, the body that sets the rules for world trade. China hopes its membership will ensure its reformed and market-oriented economic system continues to flourish.

Workers build a huge indoor ski-slope on the outskirts of Shanghai, China. May 2002 (AP)
China has become a major world economy


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