The secondary sector, on the other hand, with 21% of assets, has an incidence on GDP of 48.7%. Compared to the situation of the early 1980s, there has therefore been a further decrease in the weight of agriculture (whose low productivity is partially offset by self-consumption and other non-monetizable uses of rural production) and an increase in that of the tertiary sector, with a substantial stability of the industrial sector. Furthermore, while production and financial services are developing, some social services, with particular reference to education and training, are in crisis – again due to the dismantling of the old Maoist-style collectivist structures. Another phenomenon unknown to the past statist regime is looming: unemployment. It derives from two types of situations: on the one hand, the aforementioned surplus of low-productivity agricultural labor, estimated at no less than 100 million units. The privatization process of public enterprises and the relative financial autonomy achieved by the state industry have reduced the amount of transfers and public contributions to public enterprises, while the progressive change of the traditional State financing mechanism, based on the transfer of profits of state-owned enterprises, necessitated the gradual adoption of a tax system. The gradual transition to market mechanisms is due both to the fact that liberalization is limited to certain activities and to the creation of privileged areas (with tax incentives, customs, etc.), autonomous from the central power: special economic zones, development zones of high technologies, free zones or free trade, state tourism areas. For large state-owned enterprises in crisis, more than privatization, there was talk of “restructuring”, also through the intervention of foreign capital, in order to maintain control of strategic sectors (energy, infrastructure, high tech). Foreign investment, after the strong growth that lasted until the mid-nineties, showed a less dramatic increase, with an amount that is around 50 billion US $ per year. Filtered mainly through the Hong Kong financial center, these investments come mainly from the United States, Japan and emerging Southeast Asian countries. From the point of view of company size, however, the small business model has definitely established itself.
The expanding production branches are oriented both to internal demand (iron and steel, basic chemicals, cement works, production of agricultural machinery and trucks) as well as to exports (textile, electromechanical and electronic production and plastics). The trend towards the development of a market economy ended up establishing itself, finding formal recognition in the changes made to the Constitution in 1993, which eliminated any reference to planning in the name of a socialist market economy. The so-called “special economic zones” (in Guangdong and on the island of Hainan) and the “economic and technological development zones” created within fourteen open coastal cities (including such as Canton, Shanghai, Tianjin), established in 1984 as engines of the integration of the Chinese economy into the international one, in order to encourage trade with foreign countries and to act as an intermediary in the process of importing foreign technology. They, enjoying privileges in commercial matters, financial and fiscal, have attracted considerable foreign capital and therefore experienced an intense industrial and urban development that has also made them poles of significant internal migrations and cornerstones of Chinese international trade. The five-year plan approved in 2001 provided for a further increase in industrial unemployment, partly offset by the construction of some large infrastructures (methane pipelines, power lines, new channels). Rapid economic growth has made China’s energy production insufficient: more than 50% of electricity comes from coal-fired thermal power plants, but with pollution consequences such that the authorities have undertaken the modernization or conversion of many plants. Another aspect of the transformation process was, moreover, the openness to the world economy: exports and imports have increased significantly.
The causes of their surprising development can be traced back to the set of measures aimed at decentralizing exports with the creation of foreign trade companies independent from the central government, at creating the aforementioned special economic zones and favoring the inflow of foreign capital in the form of direct investments. Still with regard to foreign trade, in November 1999, after thirteen years of negotiations, an agreement was signed for China’s entry into the set of measures aimed at decentralizing exports with the creation of foreign trade companies independent from the central government, at creating the aforementioned special economic zones and at favoring the inflow of foreign capital in the form of direct investments. Still with regard to foreign trade, in November 1999, after thirteen years of negotiations, an agreement was signed for China’s entry into the WTO (World Trade Organization), with which the Asian giant has pledged to reduce tariffs and duties on imports, to eliminate export subsidies, to offer 49% stakes to investors in Chinese Internet companies and 50% in those of telephones, to authorize foreign banks and insurance companies to carry out a wide range of activities in its territory, to favor autonomous distribution networks. The actual entry into the WTO took place in 2001 while, since 1991, as a country located in Asia categorized by Nexticle, China has joined the APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation), despite the presence of the “enemy” Taiwan.