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包产到户 Bao Chan Dao Hu (household responsibility system)

The system under which land owned by collective farms and communes is leased to individual households in return for delivery of a fixed quota of produce to state purchasing organizations. Surplus produce can be freely marketed by the farmer. The system was first tried out in 1978 in Fengyang County, Anhui Province, and quickly spread across the whole country, effectively ending large scale collective farming in China. Alternative English translations are “household contract system” and "household contract responsibility system".

大锅饭 Da Guo Fan (eating from one big pot)

Da Guo Fan is a mainly disparaging term used to refer to excessive egalitarianism. Everyone eating from the same big pot means that everyone is treated equally regardless of their work or contribution to society.

Economic reformers blamed the Da Guo Fan system for rewarding the work-shy and being a major factor in the serious material shortages that plagued China in the 1960s and 1970s. State enterprises were funded by the government no matter how inefficient they were, and employees were paid more or less the same wages no matter how well or how poorly they performed. Reformers blamed egalitarianism for discouraging effort, initiative and creativity, and thereby slowing down economic development in China.

计划生育 Ji Hua Sheng Yu (family planning)

Popularly known in the West as the one-child policy, China’s family planning regulations are more complex than many foreigners believe. The main aims of the policy can be summed up in three simple slogans; “One couple one child”, “Late marriage and late birth”, and “Fewer and healthier births,” but many couples are allowed to have more than one child, including national minorities and those in which both partners themselves come from one-child families. Most people believe the policy has contributed significantly to population control and economic development. The penalty for breaching the rules is usually a heavy fine, and there has been controversy recently over a number of rich people and celebrities, for whom fines are no deterrent, who have chosen to defy the policy.

经济软着陆 Jing Ji Ruan Zhuo Lu (economic soft landing)

A macro-economic term borrowed from English that means achieving a transition from a period of overexpansion to a period of moderate growth without passing through a sharp slowdown or recession.

经济特区 Jing Ji Te Qu (special economic zone)

Special Economic Zones (SEZ), effectively a type of free port, were first implemented by China in 1979, with the first SEZ being set up in Shenzhen, near Hong Kong. Tariff exemptions and a generally favorable investment environment were used to encourage foreign businesses to invest and bring in advanced technology and scientific management, the theory being that this would promote the economic and technical development of the SEZ and the country as a whole. Most SEZs were established in eastern and coastal areas.

烂尾楼 Lan Wei Lou (half-baked building)

A half-baked building is a real estate project left unfinished because a developer has run out of money, because of disputes over land or compensation, or simply because of poor building quality. Half-baked buildings are often started without official permission.

皮包公司 Pi Bao Gong Si (briefcase company)

Pi Bao Gong Si means a company with few assets, few employees and mainly engages in consulting, buying and reselling. Since the only thing needed to run this sort of company is a briefcase, they became known as briefcase companies. An alternative English term is shell company.

In the early years of the 1980s many people set up briefcase companies to engage in consulting, trade, speculative buying and selling and outright fraud. Within a short time the Pi Bao Gong Si had acquired a notorious reputation. At the same time some such shell companies especially in the technology sector made positive contributions to development.

A common scam at the time was to take advance payments for consignments of goods and then disappear. Some rented a temporary office or a store to make themselves look like real companies. In the mid-80s, the government ordered a cleanup of the sector and closed 60,000 briefcase companies, a quarter of the total.

三个代表 San Ge Dai Biao (The Three Represents)

The policy of the Three Represents was devised by former Chinese President Jiang Zemin to broaden the mission of the Communist Party of China (CPC) from representing the working class to representing the interests of Chinese society as a whole.

The policy states that the Party should foster and represent, advanced productive forces, advanced culture, and the rights and interests of the majority of the Chinese people.

Representing advanced productive forces means the Party must constantly promote the emancipation and development of productive forces, in order to improve the living standards of the Chinese people.

Representing advanced culture means the Party must balance tradition and modernization, connect with the world and direct the nation's future. Key aims are to foster education, and preserve and promote human and moral values in the context of a fast developing economy.

Representing the basic rights of the majority of the Chinese people means the Party must put people's basic rights first, encourage people to express their creativity, and provide the people with economic, political and cultural benefits.

深圳速度 Shen Zhen Su Du (Shenzhen speed)

Shenzhen speed means high efficiency or unusually speedy delivery of a project. The term originated in 1986 when workers on the 53-story International Trade Mansion in the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone astonished the country by completing the building in record time, adding a new floor every three days.

铁饭碗 Tie Fan Wan (Iron Rice Bowl)

The Iron Rice Bowl is shorthand for a system in which it is impossible or very difficult for a firm to dismiss employees – as was the case in the era of the planed economy in China. The phrase was taken from an article by Deng Xiaoping – "Party and National Leadership Reform Policies". The original sentence is "No matter how good or bad our performance was, with the iron rice bowl, we could not be fired anyway."

投机倒把 Tou Ji Dao Ba (speculation and profiteering)

This term refers to a law intended to combat activities aimed at manipulating the market, such as hoarding and cornering, but during the era of the planned economy the law was used as a catch all device to suppress nearly all types of private economic activity. The law was repealed in 1997 as part of a major revision of the Criminal Code.

小康 Xiao Kang (moderately well-off society or moderate prosperity)

The earliest record of the phrase "Xiao Kang" was in The Book of Songs, the first Chinese poetry collection. In the Grand Dictionary of Chinese, Xiao Kang means a society in which all people have a fairly comfortable life. Deng Xiaoping used the term to represent the goal of the Four Modernizations policy. In today’s policy terms, a moderately well-off society will be achieved when, first, per capita GDP exceeds 3000 US dollars; second, average urban income reaches 18,000 yuan; third, average rural income reaches 8,000 yuan; fourth, the Engel Coefficient is lower than 40 percent; fifth, average urban living space reaches 30 square meters; sixth, urbanization reaches 50 percent; seventh, computer usage reaches 20 percent; eighth, university enrolment rate reaches 20 percent; ninth, there are 2.8 doctors for every thousand people; and tenth, at least 95 percent of the population receive at least the minimum living guarantee.

一国两制 Yi Guo Liang Zhi (one country, two systems)

The slogan “One country, two systems”, was proposed by Deng Xiaoping as a solution to the Taiwan issue. It is aimed at achieving the peaceful reunification of China. While affirming that there is only one China, and that the People’s Republic is its sole legal government, the policy would allow Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan, to maintain capitalist systems.

The “One country, two systems” policy has been successfully put into practice in Hong Kong and Macao. The Communist Party of China and the Government of People’s Republic of China hope to eventually resolve the Taiwan issue using the same approach. Deng Xiaoping even conceded that Taiwan could maintain its own armed forces and that the mainland would station neither troops nor administrative personnel on the island.

The first reference to the policy was made by Deng Xiaoping on November 14, 1978 in talks with Burma’s President Ne Win. Deng said that “we will respect the reality of Taiwan. Certain systems and lifestyles can be maintained there, but the precondition is reunification.” In the same talk Deng used the term “one country, two systems” for the first time and replaced the old slogan of “liberating Taiwan” with the neutral formulation “Taiwan returns to the motherland.”

(China.org.cn October 23, 2008)

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