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40 years of economic miracle transforms China into superpower

Four decades after China’s late paramount leader Deng Xiaoping masterminded the “reform and opening up” policy, the Asian giant has become an economic superpower, behind only the United States. Forty years ago, China introduced major economic reforms – lifting hundreds of millions of people out of poverty and leading to it becoming the second-largest economy in the world. Here’s the story of how China changed – in numbers.

620

The number of dollar billionaires in China – the most in the world, according to Shanghai-based publisher Hurun Report. Alibaba founder Jack Ma tops the list, with his wealth at an eye-watering US$39 billion.

1

China’s rank as the world’s biggest exporter, its economic engine. Goods and services were worth US$2.49 trillion in 2017, well ahead of the United States in second place. The value of Chinese exports was just US$21 billion in 1980.

10.2

The average percentage growth rate in China’s economy between 1980  and 2016.

168

The value, in billions of dollars, of foreign investment into China in 2017, up from virtually nothing in 1980.

216

Chinese investment abroad, in billions of dollars, in 2016.

13.9

The percentage of national wealth held by the richest 1 per cent in 2015, up from 6.4 per cent in 1980, as China becomes increasingly unequal. Now, the poorest half of the population hold just 14.8 per cent of the country’s wealth, compared with 26.7 per cent in 1980.

1.39

The population, in billions, of China in 2017, up from 963 million inhabitants in 1978 and making it the world’s most populous country. Beijing imposed the one-child policy in 1979 in a bid to slow population growth, but it was finally abandoned in 2015 due to an ageing population.

76

Average Chinese life expectancy in 2016, up from 66 in 1979.

4

Percentage of the Chinese population who were illiterate in 2010, compared with 22 per cent in 1982.

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