China: Hard Times

Peking outlines new reforms

Traditionally, the Chinese government's public pronouncements were exercises in bombast, filled with declarations of "great victory" and "excellent situations" on all fronts. But last week, when the 3,202 delegates to the National People's Congress assembled in Peking for their annual meeting, self-congratulations were at a minimum. Instead, the top leaders depicted a country facing a long period of economic austerity.

The underlying message was reaffirmation of the policy first adopted by the Peking leadership in 1979 to reverse the unsound and unrealistic plans that were formulated earlier in a race to achieve the so-called four modernizations of post-Mao...

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