The Political Dynamics of Chinese Economic Reform: An Overview

  • Gordon White


The Third Plenum of the CCP Central Committee, held in December 1978, announced a decisive shift in the Party’s developmental purpose. This had two main components. First, it rejected the previous Maoist definition of the Party’s historical role as waging a political ‘class struggle’; henceforth the main objective was to be economic modernisation. Second, in pursuit of this aim the traditional approach to economic development, based on the system of directive central planning inherited from the ‘Soviet model’ of the 1950s, was to be reformed both in terms of its strategy and its organisation. We have already introduced the main elements of the economic reform paradigm; here we shall analyse the political dynamics of implementing the reforms and assess the extent of their success, as of the early 1990s, in redefining the Chinese developmental state and economy along ‘market socialist’ lines.


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  1. 1.
    Deng Xiaoping, Build Socialism with Chinese Characteristics, Beijing, Foreign Languages Press, 1985, p. 49.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Douglas Gordon White 1993

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gordon White
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Development StudiesUniversity of SussexUK

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