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When Will China Achieve Quality Growth?

China has not yet realized President Xi Jinping's vision of an inclusive, green, innovation-driven economy. But if policymakers continue to strengthen property rights and work to improve market confidence and foster fair competition, a breakthrough should not be far off.

HONG KONG – Even before the 2008 global financial crisis laid bare the limits of China’s export-oriented growth model, the country’s leaders were stressing the need for quality growth. In 2007, then-Premier Wen Jiabao argued that Chinese economic growth had become “unstable, unbalanced, uncoordinated, and unsustainable.” More than a decade later, how close is China to overcoming Wen’s “Four Uns”?

Significant progress has been achieved, particularly since 2013, when President Xi Jinping and his team articulated a comprehensive reform plan that would put China onto a path of inclusive, green, innovation-driven growth. Since then, China has taken major steps forward, especially in rooting out corruption, alleviating poverty, and implementing supply-side reforms.

But China has not quite reached the authorities’ goal that the market should become the “decisive” force in resource allocation. And the implementation of Xi’s reform plan has been hampered by multiple internal and external shocks – including, in recent months, escalating trade tensions with the United States.

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