|For centuries China has stood as
a leading civilization, outpacing the rest of the world in the arts and
sciences. But in the first half of the 20th century, China was beset by
major famines, civil unrest, military defeats, and foreign occupation. After
World War II, the Communists under MAO Zedong established a dictatorship
that, while ensuring China's sovereignty, imposed strict controls over
everyday life and cost the lives of tens of millions of people. After 1978,
his successor DENG Xiaoping gradually introduced market-oriented reforms and
decentralized economic decision making. Output quadrupled in the next 20
years and China now has the world's second largest GDP. Political controls
remain tight even while economic controls continue to weaken.
China continues to emerge, blending old and new, as well as assimilating traditional values and evolving technology.