Analytical Comparison of China's Newest Economic Regions:
Special Economic Zones, Open Cities, and Open Coastal Areas
In 1978, the People's Republic of China took the first steps on a long path that would switch the world's largest nation operating under a Communist system of government to the world's largest nation attempting to operate as a new economic concept -- a socialist marketing economy. Since then, China's economy has truly modernized and embraced many of the concepts of economic geography, including creating a societal infrastructure that accepts capitalism. The reform process has affected all sectors of the economy (Roberts & Clifford, 1997, 54).
Looking back at the changes occurring over the last 17 years, it becomes apparent that one key moment in that evolution from Communism to Capitalism happened in 1992, when the Party officially recognized that a market system was compatible with the ideals of socialism (Lawrence, 1992, 36). Already possessing the world's largest population, most economic observers suggest that by early in the next century, China may have the world's largest economy. To test that speculation, this analysis will compare and contrast the three geographical economic elements--The Special Economic Zones, The Open Cities, and The Open Coastal Areas (The Pudong New Zone..., 1997). The first section of the analysis will focus on these zones within a three-part structure: their goals, their achievements and their failures. From these Special Economic Zones came a refined subset of organizational structures which will be outlined in the second section. That outline serves as basis for third section, which discusses how each of these three regions contributes to the Pacific Rim growth that is making Asia one of the least-understood superpowers. The fourth section will consider the validity of the earlier assumption that China is headed toward the goal of becoming the world's largest and p...