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The Development of China’s Private Economy in the Past Forty Years: Five Debates and Enlightenments (No.32, 2019)


By Shi Shujie, Research Team on “A Review of China’s Achievements and Experience over the Past 40 Years since Reform and Opening up”, DRC

Research Report, No.32, 2019 (Total 5532) 2019-3-14

Abstract: Since reform and opening up, China’s private economy has experienced five major debates in the course of development. The first debate was in the initial phase of the reform and opening up and focused on whether private businesses could be allowed to employ more than 8 workers. The second debate was in the 1990s and was related to the issue whether the enhancement of private economy could affect the market performance with socialism in nature. The third debate was launched at the turn of the 21st century and was about the fact whether the state economy reduced its market share while the private economy increased its market volume or vice versa. The fourth debate lasted from 2001 till now and was about how to understand the non-regulated development of the private economy in its initial phase. The fifth debate was initiated prior to the 40th anniversary of reform and opening up and was about whether the private economy had completed its historical mission and retreated from the market. It can be said that each progress of private economy in China witnessed fierce arguments in the theoretical circles on how to hold a proper view of private economy. Through emancipating people’s minds to reach a consensus on ways of further reform, the foundation for advancing reform has been finally laid. Therefore, more efforts need to be made to make new breakthroughs on fundamental theories so as to promote the development of the private economy with broad views.

Key words: private economy, reform, ownership theory, debates