China’s economic reforms successfully built an improved
environment for both state and private companies, providing them with the
necessary resources, such as infrastructure, access to capital and a more
prepared workforce. In 1986, China was granted the status of observer by the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT)
and since then, it has begun working towards accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO). China
became a member of the World Trade Organization in 2001 and agreed to become a
“responsible participant” and to accept the rules of the world
trading system. Its market was opened to foreign investment and quotas and
tariffs were reduced. At present, it is the second largest exporter after
Germany and the second largest importer after the United States.

China has become a global manufacturing platform, and
currently has the largest manufacturing economy in the world. For example,
China produces around 80% of the world’s air conditioners, 80% of the world’s
umbrellas, 70% of mobile phones and 60% of the country’s footwear. It also
became, in 2007, the world’s largest producer of carbon dioxide, the main
greenhouse gas responsible for global warming. This was due to the growing
demand for coal to generate electricity and an increase in the production of
cement to build infrastructure.

The rapid development of China is
an economic miracle. No country in the world has grown in such a vertiginous
way. According to The Economist, Britain took more than 150 years since the
beginning of the industrial revolution to double GDP per person (measured in
purchasing power parity), from $ 1,300 to $ 2,600. About 120 years later, the
United States, with a population similar in size to the United Kingdom,
achieved the same in one third of the time. China has achieved it in only
twelve years.


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