One Step Ahead In China: Guangdong Under Reform

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One Step Ahead In China: Guangdong Under Reform

By Ezra F. Vogel
Harvard University Press, 1989
510 pp. $29.95
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This is a landmark volume that describes in enormous detail the breakneck pace of change in one Chinese coastal region, Guangdong province, adjacent to Hong Kong. It is based on interviews and research that the author has conducted on annual visits to Guangdong since 1980. He describes the striking changes: paved roads; streets jammed with taxis, cars, vans and motorbikes; stores filled with goods and customers; new buildings and construction sites; a tripling of average per capita income between 1980 and 1987. These changes were sparked by a new coastal strategy. Mao had taken resources from coastal areas to build up the provinces of inner China but Deng, and the reform leadership led by Zhao Ziyang, decided to allow the coastal areas to move ahead more rapidly. This strategy is now under attack by the conservative coalition currently in control in China, but Vogel's book demonstrates why it will be extremely difficult for the conservatives to reverse the reform process in Guangdong. This book will stand as one of the major contributions to the literature on contemporary China and to the literature on economic development.

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