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For most of its 3500 years of history China led the world in agriculture craftsand science then fell behind in the 19th century when the Industrial Revolution gave the Westclear superiority in military and economic affairs In the first half of the 20th century Chinacontinued to suffer from major famines civil unrest military defeat and foreign occupationAfter World War II the Communists under MAO Zedong established a dictatorship that whileensuring Chinas autonomy imposed strict controls over all aspects of life and cost the lives oftens of millions of people After 1978 his successor DENG Xiaoping decentralized economicdecision making output quadrupled in the next 20 years Political controls remain tight at thesame time economic controls have been weakening Present issues are incorporating Hong into the Chinese system closing down inefficient state-owned enterprises modernizing themilitary fighting corruption and providing support to tens of millions of displaced workersNatural hazards frequent typhoons about five per year along southern and eastern coastsdamaging floods tsunamis earthquakes droughts Environmentcurrent issues air pollution greenhouse gases sulfur dioxide particulatesfrom reliance on coal produces acid rain water shortages particularly in the north waterpollution from untreated wastes deforestation estimated loss of one-fifth of agricultural landsince 1949 to soil erosion and economic development desertification trade in endangeredEnvironmentinternational agreements party to Antarctic-Environmental Protocol Antarctic Treaty Biodiversity Climate ChangeDesertification Endangered Species Hazardous Wastes Law of the Sea Marine DumpingOzone Layer Protection Ship Pollution Tropical Timber 83 Tropical Timber 94 WetlandsWhaling Population 1246871951 Beginning in late 1978 the Chinese leadership has been trying to movethe economy from a sluggish Soviet-style centrally planned economy to a more market-orientedeconomy but still within a rigid political framework of Communist Party control To this end theauthorities switched to a system of household responsibility in agriculture in place of the oldcollectivization increased the authority of local officials and plant managers in industrypermitted a wide variety of small-scale enterprise in services and light manufacturing andopened the economy to increased foreign trade and investment The result has
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