In conjunction with development, assuring stability (wending)8 and welfare (fuli) have been viewed as imperatives by rulers throughout China’s history and remain so in the rationale of the Chinese Communist Party, which has had to contend not only with social disorder, but also with loss of credibility during periods of its reign. With these imperatives in mind, the Chinese government initiated an unprecedented path of reform in 1978 which has had a substantial impact on literally every aspect of society as well as the country#x2019;s foreign relations. Viewed pragmatically, this has brought about the world#x2019;s fastest growing economy and has at the same time — when evaluated in the overall perspective — yielded substantial material benefits for its population. However, the road towards development remains fragile. It presents significant economic and political challenges and also has troubling implications for both society and the natural environment. These are by no means insurmountable obstacles, but they need to be overcome.9 Successful economic growth is considered to be the pivotal means necessary to guarantee social stability and welfare, but more recently the government has also increasingly acknowledged the need to incorporate aspects related to quality and sustainability into its growth targets.10
Gross Domestic Product Qing Dynasty Chinese Communist Party Reform Process Capita Gross Domestic Product
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