China has positioned surface-to-air missiles on a disputed island in the South China Sea, a U.S. official said Tuesday.

Reforms started in the late 1970s with the phasing out of collectivized agriculture, and expanded to include the gradual liberalization of prices, fiscal decentralization, increased autonomy for state enterprises, the foundation of a diversified banking system, the development of stock markets, the rapid growth of the non-state sector, and the opening to foreign trade and investment.

The Chinese government faces numerous economic development challenges, including:
(a) reducing its high domestic savings rate and correspondingly low domestic demand through increased corporate transfers and a strengthened social safety net;
(b) sustaining adequate job growth for tens of millions of migrants and new entrants to the work force; (c) reducing corruption and other economic crimes; and
(d) containing environmental damage and social strife related to the economy’s rapid transformation.

China has emphasized raising personal income and consumption and introducing new management systems to help increase productivity.

Some economists believe that Chinese economic growth has been in fact understated during much of the 1990s and early 2000s, failing to fully factor in the growth driven by the private sector and that the extent at which China is dependent on exports is exaggerated.

China is the world’s largest producer of rice and is among the principal sources of wheat, corn (maize), tobacco, soybeans, peanuts (groundnuts), and cotton.

A report by UBS in 2009 concluded that China has experienced total factor productivity growth of 4 per cent per year since 1990, one of the fastest improvements in world economic history.

The market-oriented reforms China has implemented over the past two decades have unleashed individual initiative and entrepreneurship, whilst retaining state domination of the economy.

The growth in both outbound investment from, and inbound investment to, China reflects the nation’s rising economic power and attractiveness as an investment destination.

“The growth rate (for ODI) in the next few years will be much higher than previous years,” Shen said, without elaborating.

China reiterated the nation’s goals for the next decade – increasing market share of pure-electric and plug-in electric autos, building world-competitive auto makers and parts manufacturers in the energy-efficient auto sector as well as raising fuel-efficiency to world levels.

China’s challenge in the early 21st century will be to balance its highly centralized political system with an increasingly decentralized economic system.

Agriculture is by far the leading occupation, involving over 50% of the population, although extensive rough, high terrain and large arid areas – especially in the west and north – limit cultivation to only about 10% of the land surface.

In terms of cash crops, China ranks first in cotton and tobacco and is an important producer of oilseeds, silk, tea, ramie, jute, hemp, sugarcane, and sugar beets.

Livestock raising on a large scale is confined to the border regions and provinces in the north and west; it is mainly of the nomadic pastoral type.

Growing domestic demand beginning in the mid-1990s, however, has forced the nation to import increasing quantities of petroleum.

There are large deposits of uranium in the northwest, especially in Xinjiang; there are also mines in Jiangxi and Guangdong provs.

China also has extensive hydroelectric energy potential, notably in Yunnan, W Sichuan, and E Tibet, although hydroelectric power accounts for only 5% of the country’s total energy production.

The iron and steel industry is organized around several major centers (including Anshan, one of the world’s largest), but thousands of small iron and steel plants have also been established throughout the country.

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China Deploys Missiles on Disputed Island in South China Sea