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Drawing on his book China's Economic Development (1975) as well as his article on Chinese foreign trade in the October 1975 Foreign Affairs, the late Professor Eckstein has assembled a balanced, nuts-and-bolts overview of the Chinese economy since 1949. The book begins with general categories--resources inherited by the Revolution, political motivation, property relations, planning principles--and traces specific policy shifts. The Great Leap Forward of 1966-67 is described as a debacle which, even before the Cultural Revolution, produced a turn toward decentralization and universal manual labor. Eckstein credits the government with creating extraordinary price stability and achieving semi-developed status for the economy; he also notes anomalies and lags, including weak mid- and long-range planning, a continued predominance of rural population, a five-year period in which almost no technical personnel were graduated, serious deficiencies in steel output and communications capacity, and a low level of world trade in the 1970s. Using the 1975 CIA-Joint Economic Committee statistics he helped compile, and parenthetically noting other scholars' mistrust of them, the book provides indices of gross domestic product, capital spending, and so forth through 1974. In future, China will have to mechanize farming to meet its growth targets, and find better ways of training technicians; as for trade, China's petroleum reserves will turn it into a major exporter seeking foreign exchange. While the historical material can largely be found in Eckstein's earlier works, this is an update on approximations of the recent past which will be useful as both an introductory source and a bounce-off summation for specialists.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1977
ISBN: 0521291895
Publisher: Cambridge Univ. Press