china industrialize

When Did China Industrialize? Complete History

When did china industrialize? China’s industrial revolution, which started 35 years ago, is perhaps one of the most important economic and geopolitical phenomena since the original A 250-year-old industrial revolution.

China’s recent economic boom, although widely viewed as a contemporary phenomenon, is the outcome of long-term processes with deep historical roots

On our list of things to know, we mentioned that China’s journey toward industrialization has included three significant stages. Learn more by reading on!

Three Phases of China’s Rise as An Industrial Power

china industrialize

Proto-Industrialization: 1978-88

Wen noted that millions of rural enterprises fueled the first 10 years of economic reform:

  • Between 1.5 million and 18.9 million village businesses were operating.
  • The industrial output of the village increased by a factor of more than 13.5.
  • Village peasant-workers grew to nearly 100 million.
  • The total amount of wages earned by farmers increased by 12 times.

Wen wrote: “In the middle of the 1980s, China ended its shortage economy—a characteristic of all centrally planned economies, characterized by the rationing of meat, other food, clothing, and other basic consumer goods—and simultaneously resolved its food security issue thanks to this phenomenal growth in the supply of basic consumer goods.”

First Industrial Revolution: 1988-98

In China’s second phase, both rural and urban areas participated in the mass production of labor-intensive light consumer goods. Wen observed that during this time, China surpassed other countries to become the world’s largest producer and exporter of textiles, the largest importer and producer of cotton, as well as the largest producer and exporter of furniture and toys. A further factor was the 28 percent annual growth in village industrial output.

Second Industrial Revolution: 1998-Present

China is currently in the phase of mass producing the tools of mass production. Wen wrote: “The production and consumption of coal, steel, cement, chemical fibers, machine tools, highways, bridges, tunnels, ships, and other transportation-related intermediate goods all saw significant increases as a result of the rapidly and enormously expanding domestic market.”

He noted that 2.6 million miles of public roads have been built. There are 46 percent more express highway miles in China than in the United States, totaling over 70,000 miles. Additionally, 28 of China’s 30 provinces now have high-speed trains, and the total length of its rail network is 50% longer than that of the rest of the world put together.

Read More: Why Is Everything Made In China?

Conclusion on China Industrialization

The U.S. pursued one of history’s most successful nation-building win-win strategies following World War II helping rebuild Europe and Japan and develop other underdeveloped nations.

But as China’s experience shows, industrialization is more than just the expansion of commodity flows into and out of furnaces, mills, and machine shops.

Maintaining long-term momentum and the effects of industrialization on the entire economy depend on how growth takes place, the relative importance of the intensive and extensive margins, and more generally, the underlying microeconomic processes.

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