This book outlines and analyzes the economic development of China between 1949 and 2007. Avoiding a narrowly economic approach, it adresses many of the broader aspects of development, including literacy, morality, demographics and the environment. The book also discusses the Great Leap Forward, the Cultural Revolution, the aims of Maoism and the introduction of an outward-looking market economy since 1978.
The distinctive features of this book are its sweep and its engagement with controversial issues. For example, there is no question that aspects of Maoism were disastrous, but Bramall argues that there was another side to the programme taken as a whole. He urges that China's Cultural Revolution of the 1960s and late Maoism more generally (1964-78) need to be seen as a coherent plan for development, rather than the genocidal programme of vengeance as portrayed in some quarters. The current system of government in China has presided over three decades of very rapid economic growth. However, the author shows that this growth has come at a price. One of the most unequal countries in the world, China is rife with inequalities in income and in access to health and education. Bramall makes it clear that unless radical change takes place, Chinese growth will not be sustainable.
This wide-ranging text is relevant to all those studying the economic history of China as well as its contemporary economy. It is also useful more generally for students and researchers in the fields of international and development economics.