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Economic and social development in the past 50 years
Fifty years ago, as mankind was entering the middle part of the 20th century, the Chinese people, who had already undergone half a century of harsh trials and bloody struggles, finally announced the founding of the New China in the Orient. However, it was a poverty-stricken China riddled with wounds left by a series of invasions. On the ruins of Old China, the hard-working and courageous Chinese people embarked on five decades of development and construction, and achieved result that caught the attention of the world. Today, the poverty-stricken and backward Old China has been transformed into the prosperous and powerful New China.

Over the past 50 years, amidst the high tide of world economic development, the speed of China's own economic development has been exceptionally swift, especially since the adoption of the policies of opening and reform. Statistics show that from the early years following the founding of New China until the year 1998, the GNP (gross national product) grew by over 29-fold, and the annual economic growth rate averaged 7.7 per cent. From 1998, China's average annual economic growth rate was 9.7 per cent, and the GDP in 1998 has reached 950 billion US Dollars putting it in seventh place in the world rankings after the US, Germany, France, the United Kingdom and Italy. A leading economist from the World Bank has praised China for the tremendous changes that have taken place in the country.

In the 50 years since the founding of the People's Republic, China's overall industrial production has doubled. By the end of 1988, China's output of steel had reached115.6 million tons which is a 700-fold increase over the figure in the early period of the People's Republic; the output of raw coal was 1,250 million tons, a 38-fold increase: the output of cement was 536 million tons, an 81-fold increase; the output of oil was 161 million tons, a 1,300-fold increase; and the output of electricity was 1,167 billion kwh, a 270-fold increase. Moreover, the outputs of steel, raw coal, cement, cotton cloth and television sets were the highest in the world.

Over the past 50 years, agricultural production has increased steadily, and yields have constantly grown. In 1998 the grain harvest was 490 million tons, a 43-fold increase over that in the early days of the People's Republic; the cotton harvest was 4.5 million tons, a tenfold increase; oilseed production was 23.13 million tons, a eight fold increase; the output of pork, beef and mutton was 43.55 million tons, a 13-fold increase; and the output of aquatic products was 39.06 million tons, an 85-fold increase. What is more, China has led the world in the production of grains, cotton, oilseeds, pork, beef and mutton for several years running.

As a result of painstaking efforts over the past few decades, the different levels of education in China have developed in a stable manner, the reform of the education system is increasingly being strengthened and the structure of school education is being improved. According to preliminary estimates, there were 191,000 students in institutions of higher education. By the end of 1998, there were 1,022 regular institutions of higher learning in China, with an annual enrollment of 1.08 million and a total of 3.41 million students, or an increase of 18 times over the past few decades.

Between 1912 and 1948, Old China had a total of 210,000 college graduates. But, between 1978 and 1998; China trained a total of nearly 20 million college graduates (including students from adult higher-education institutes). Currently, there are 9,626 adult higher-education institutes, with an annual enrollment of more than one million students. China is also working to turn out more postgraduates and Ph.D.s. In 1998, there were 736 units which were authorised to train postgraduates, with an annual enrollment of 73,000. China has also witnessed considerable development in secondary education. At present, there are 13,948 ordinary middle schools, with 9.38 million students enrolled; 54.5 million junior middle school students, or an enrollment ratio of 87.3 per cent, and 139.54 million primary school students, or an enrollment ratio of 98.9 per cent.

In recent years; the Chinese Government has formulated a series of policies and measures for the purpose of guaranteeing the priority development of education, which include continuing to increase investment in education, and improving school facilities and teachers' conditions. This has greatly promoted the advancement of education.

In the field of science and technology, the Chinese Government has initiated the strategy of "Developing the Country with Science and Technology". Between 1978 and 1998, China successfully launched 51 satellites, intercontinental carrier rockets and the "Long March series" heavy-thrust rockets. In addition, the construction of a positron and negatron electronic collider was completed in Beijing, a 5 MW low-temperature nuclear heating reactor and the Dayawan Nuclear Power Plant were put into operation; Atom-level control and atom,4 level processing reached internationally advanced levels, and national computer and network equipment was connected both domestically and internationally; genotype hybrid rice was cultivated for the first time, research on super-high-density information storage in manometer electronics made remarkable progress, the Galaxy-Ill Super computer was developed, and the single-clone technique was used in clinical treatment.

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