China's economic development in 40 years

China has made great achievements since the introduction of the reform and opening-up policy in 1978. Here are some key figures showing the changes over the past four decades.

The country's economy expanded at an average rate of 9.5 percent over the last 40 years, far beyond the world economy's 2.9 percent in the same period. And its GDP rose from 367.9 billion yuan in 1978 to 82.71 trillion yuan in 2017, while its per-capita GDP saw a 22.8-fold growth to 59,660 yuan over the same time span, lifting China from the notch of world's low-income to middle-income countries.

As the second-largest economy in the world since 2010 when China surpassed Japan, the country accounted for around 15 percent of world economy in 2017, up 13 percentage points from 1978.

From 1978 to 2017, China's state revenue increased from 113.2 billion to 17 trillion yuan, while the country's gross national income per-capita rose from 1978's $200 to $8,250 in 2016. China cut the number of rural poor from 770 million to 30.46 million over the past 40 years.

China's industrial structure has continued to optimize and its economic growth has been driven by consumption, investment and export. At the same time, China has recorded the largest foreign reserve in the world.


China's economy has advanced by leaps and bounds over the past 40 years, with its GDP total volume growing from 367.87 billion yuan in 1978 to 82.71 trillion yuan in 2017.

2Per-capita GDP

The per-capita GDP has grown exponentially. China spent 10 years lifting the number from 468 yuan in 1980 to 1,663 yuan in 1990, while the figure reached 59,660 yuan in 2017 from 50,251 yuan two years ago.

3Shares of the three industries' value added of GDP

The share of primary industry's value added in GDP has fallen, declining around 20 percentage points in the past four decades. In contrast, tertiary industry more than doubled its share in the same period, increasing from 24.6 percent in 1978 to 51.6 percent in 2017.

And secondary industry edged down from 47.7 percent to around 40 percent.

4 Newly added employment in urban areas

With progress on urbanization and industrialization, more jobs were created in urban areas, from 2.6 million new jobs in 2000 to 13.51 million in 2017.

5Total energy output

Total energy output in the past 40 years saw a significant increase, from 627.7 million tons of standard coal in 1978 to 3.59 billion tons of standard coal in 2017.

6Total retail sales of consumer goods

China's retail sales of consumer goods grew from 155.9 billion yuan in 1978 to 36.63 trillion yuan in 2017.

7Year-end foreign exchange reserve

By the end of 2017, China's foreign exchange reserve had reached $3.14 trillion, while the figure was $167 million in 1978.

8Foreign trade

China's foreign trade volume rose from $20.6 billion in 1978 to $4.1 trillion in 2017.

9Imports and exports of goods

The total volume of both imports and exports increased from 1978 to 2017, but exports of goods surpassed imports in 2000, 2015 and 2017, bucking the trend in 1978, when imports were more than exports.

10Fiscal revenue

China's fiscal revenue has risen along with the country's expanding economy, from 113.2 billion yuan at the beginning of the reform and opening-up to 17.26 trillion yuan in 2017.

11Earnings from international tourism

Reform and opening-up boosted international tourism, driving market revenue from $260 million in 1978 to $123.4 billion in 2017.

12Foreign direct investment

Foreign direct investment surged from $920 million in 1983 to $131 billion in 2017.

13Crude steel output

Crude steel output grew from 31.78 million tons in 1978 to 831.73 million tons in 2017.

14Output of grain

Output of grain has steadily increased from 304.77 million tons in 1978 to 617.91 million tons in 2017.

15Total investment in fixed assets of China

Total investment in fixed assets soared from 3.29 trillion yuan in 2000 to 64.12 trillion yuan in 2017.

16Per-capita disposable income of urban households

Per-capita disposable income for urban households accelerated from 343 yuan in 1978 to 36,396 yuan in 2017.

17Number of authorized patents

Authorized patents rose to 1.84 million in 2017 from 22,588 in 1990.

18Residential savings deposit

Chinese people saw their pockets getting bigger and bigger, as residential savings deposit increased from 21.1 billion yuan in 1978 to 64.38 trillion yuan in 2017.

19Global ranking of economic volume

China became the second-largest economy in 2010, only next to the United States.

20Urbanization rate

About 58.52 percent of people lived in towns and cities in 2017, compared with 17.92 percent back in 1978.

21Poverty-stricken population in rural area

The rural poor number kept falling over the past four decades, from 770.39 million in 1978 to 2017's 30.46 million.

22Per-capita disposable income of residents

Resident's disposable income has reached a five-digit level since 2009 from less than 200 yuan in 1978.

23Engel's coefficient

Chinese residents' Engel's coefficient — which measures the living standard of a country with a lower coefficient indicating a higher standard of living — has dropped from 63.9 percent in 1978 to 29.3 percent in 2017.

24High-speed rail mileage

China's high-speed railway developed from nothing. Up to 2017, the high-speed railway network covered 25,000 km.

25Auto production

Auto industry has witnessed an uptrend in production over the past 40 years. The volume hit 29.02 million in 2017, up from 149,000 back in 1978.

26China's contribution to the world economy

About 30 percent of world economy growth is attributed to China's contribution since 2015, compared with 3.1 percent in 1978.

Sources: National Bureau of Statistics

Ministry of Transport

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