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Three-step development strategy

(Reform and Opening Up)

Updated:2018-10-29 |

Three-step development strategy

The three-step strategy developed gradually after the third plenary session of the 11th CPC Central Committee, on the basis of the experience of the Chinese people in pursuing socialist modernization under the leadership of the CPC. Unveiled at the 13th CPC National Congress in October 1987, the strategy envisaged three steps for economic development. It drew upon the concept of the preliminary stage of socialism and Deng Xiaoping’s strategic conclusions on development reached since 1985, and built on the economic development strategy adopted at the 12th CPC National Congress. The underlying assumption was that the major challenge in the preliminary stage of socialism was how to address the inadequate level of development and to satisfy the people’s growing material and cultural needs. Aimed at raising the level of development to improve the people’s wellbeing, the strategy outlined specific targets for each of the three steps.

First, the years from 1981 to the end of the 1980s would see the doubling of the 1980 GDP, thus meeting the most basic needs of the people. Second, GDP would be doubled again between 1991 and the end of the 20th century, enabling the people to enjoy a “moderately prosperous” life. Third, with the process of modernization basically completed, per capita GDP was expected to reach the level of a moderately developed country by the mid-21st century, further improving the people’s wellbeing.

The three-step strategy for economic development combined a forward-looking vision for building a prosperous China with prudent and careful planning. As a major document guiding the CPC in its search for ways to develop socialism with Chinese characteristics, it showed not only the courage and ambition of the Party and the Chinese people but also a pragmatic approach rooted in a deep understanding of the existing conditions. The strategy provided guidance for China’s economic development in the preliminary stage of socialism, on the basis of a careful analysis of the realities during this period of time and what could be done to drive economic development. It clarified our historic mission and goal of economic development, which remain relevant to what the Party, the government and the people are pursuing in a new era.

In order to meet the targets specified in the three-step strategy, further reform and greater openness are imperative. Reform injects dynamism into the economy, inspiring the people to create more wealth. Greater openness allows more competition over projects, financial resources, technology, talent, and market share. Essential to successful implementation of this strategy is improving the ability of political and business leaders to manage change in our modernization process.