The achievement of self-reliance (zi li geng sheng: “regeneration through one's own efforts”) is an important Chinese goal. Mao Zedong's approach to achieving this goal after 1960 was to advocate and practice economic self-sufficiency both within China and nationally. One purpose of this article is to outline and discuss Mao's approach and its consequences. Following China's market reforms commencing in 1978, Mao's economic self-reliance policies were systematically abandoned. The second aim of this article is to consider how China's market reforms and its development have impacted on subnational economic self-reliance within China and to assess the extent to which its open-door policy has reduced its national self-reliance.
Secondary sources and data are used to develop this article.
As a result of its market reform and economic development, all parts of China's economy have become more interdependent and continue to do so. In addition, China has become more dependent for its economic welfare on international trade, but its dependence is much less than that of many other countries, for example, Germany. Nevertheless, the Chinese still endeavour to be masters of their own destiny. From this perspective, Mao's principle of self-reliance has not been abandoned.
Despite its growing economic interdependence, China continues to value its capacity for autonomous goal setting and decision-making. This is illustrated by the strategies it has adopted to address its dependency on oil imports. Nevertheless, China's increased economic interdependence adds to China's challenges and difficulties in controlling its economic affairs.
This article has been developed from a presentation at the Western Research Institute, Bathurst, NSW, Australia. The author wishes to thank Dr P.K. Basu of Charles Sturt University and visiting professors from China for their feedback on this presentation.
Tisdell, C. (2013), "Economic self-reliance and China's development: changing perspectives", International Journal of Development Issues, Vol. 12 No. 3, pp. 239-252. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJDI-03-2013-0029Download as .RIS
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