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On road to better high-quality development

By Wang Xiaosong | China Daily | Updated: 2019-09-18 07:14

A view of Tian'anmen Square under the blue sky in Beijing, May 6, 2019. [Photo/IC]

Since its founding in 1949, the People's Republic of China's industrial structure has gone through several significant changes. In 1949, China was a typical agricultural country, with the primary, secondary and tertiary industry accounting for 58.5 percent, 25.9 percent and 15.6 percent of its GDP.

The national economy recovered after three years of tenuous efforts, following which China introduced planned economy.

From 1958 to 1978, China strengthened its industrial structure. For instance, during the First Five-Year Plan (1953-57), China optimized its industrial structure by focusing on the core task of facilitating socialist industrialization.

During this period, China's industrial structure was generally unbalanced, as the development of the primary industry seriously lagged behind the global level, the secondary industry developed at an excessively fast pace and the tertiary industry developed at a relatively slow rate. But despite having an imbalanced industrial structure before 1978, China had built a relatively sound and independent industrial structure and economic system.

The launch of reform and opening-up in 1978 boosted China's economic development; as a result, the country's industrial structure began improving at a rapid pace. The period between 1978 and 1992 saw the Chinese economy transitioning from planed economy to market economy, which significantly changed the resource distribution pattern. During this period, the primary industry grew from 102.75 billion yuan to 586.66 billion yuan, the secondary industry from 174.52 billion yuan to 1.17 trillion yuan, and the tertiary industry from 87.25 billion yuan to 935.74 billion yuan.

Between 1993 and 2003, China deepened reform and opening-up. The reform of State-owned enterprises injected new vitality into large-scale SOEs, while smaller SOEs developed at a faster rate thanks to restructuring. This period also saw China further opening up its economy to the outside world, more actively participating in the international division of labor and enjoying the dividends of globalization.

After 2003, the proportion of agriculture in China's GDP declined sharply, with the proportion of industry remaining stable and that of the service sector increasing sharply. The agricultural, industrial and service sectors accounted for 12.8 percent, 46.0 percent and 41.2 percent of China's GDP.

China experienced an overheated economy from 2004 to 2007, and encountered serious natural disasters and the global financial crisis in 2008. By 2009, China's industrial structure had further improved following fluctuations and adjustments, and the agricultural, industrial and service sectors accounted for 10.3 percent, 46.2 percent and 43.5 percent of its GDP.

In 2012, for the first time the tertiary industry's share of GDP equaled that of the secondary industry-at 45.3 percent.

By the end of last year, the share of the tertiary industry in GDP had increased to 52.2 percent, reflecting the characteristics of the post-industrialization economic structure-in which the tertiary industry accounts for more than 50 percent of national GDP.

Since the launch of reform and opening-up, the primary industry has seen a drastic decline while the secondary industry's share in GDP has been around 40 percent, which shows the latter remains a significant driver of China's economy.

In general, the transformation of its industrial structure has made China the world's second-largest economy and the largest commodity exporter. The commodity export structure of China, too, has undergone a drastic change, with the proportion of manufactured goods in China's overall exports increasing from 48.3 percent in 1980 to 88.8 percent in 1997 and to 95.1 percent in 2012.

The rapid growth of its manufacturing industry made China the "factory of the world", and gradually the "factory of the world for high-tech products".

And China is expected to further optimize its industrial structure to realize even better high-quality development.

The author is a researcher at the National Academy of Development and Strategy and a professor of economics at Renmin University of China. The views don't necessarily represent those of China Daily.

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