During the last three decades of the twentieth century, the world has witnessed the rise of China in the global economy. The “reform and opening – up” policy (Gaige kaifang 改革开放) introduced in the late 1970s by Deng Xiaoping, drove the country to three decades of double-digit economic growth and the transition of a rural and isolated China into a $11 trillion economy. A deep restructuration of the political order after Mao Zedong’s death and the implementation of unprecedented economic policies laid the foundations that would turn China into the world’s second-largest economy. China’s accession to the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2001 was the catalyst for its conclusive opening to the free market and its positioning as a significant actor in the global economy. Rising from the sixth position in the 2001 global ranking to the third in 2007, and the second in 2010, China shifted from a regional economy to a global one after its WTO’s accession. In light of this, China’s economic growth has been cataloged by the World Bank as the “fastest sustained expansion by a major economy in history”.
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