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China Table of Contents



After 1982, reforms moved China's economy to a mixed system based on mandatory planning, guidance planning (use of economic levers such as taxes, prices, and credit instead of administrative fiat), and the free market. In late 1984 further reforms of the urban industrial economy and commerce reduced the scope of mandatory planning, increased enterprise autonomy and the authority of professional managers, loosened price controls to rationalize prices, and cut subsidies to enterprises. These changes created a "socialist planned commodity economy," essentially a dual economy in which planned allocation and distribution are supplemented by market exchanges based on floating or free prices (see Prices , ch. 5).

As a result of these reforms, the distribution of goods used in industrial production was based on mandatory planning with fixed prices, guidance planning with floating prices, and the free market. Mandatory planning covered sixty industrial products, including coal, crude oil, rolled steel, nonferrous metals, timber, cement, electricity, basic industrial chemicals, chemical fertilizers, major machines and electrical equipment, chemical fibers, newsprint, cigarettes, and defense industry products. Once enterprises under mandatory planning had met the state's mandatory plans and supply contracts, they could sell surplus production to commercial departments or other enterprises. Prices of surplus industrial producer goods floated within limits set by the state. The state also had a planned distribution system for important materials such as coal, iron and steel, timber, and cement. Enterprise managers who chose to exceed planned production goals purchased additional materials on the market. Major cities established wholesale markets for industrial producer goods to supplement the state's allocation system.

Under guidance planning, enterprises try to meet the state's planned goals but make their own arrangements for production and sales based on the orientation of the state's plans, the availability of raw and unfinished materials and energy supplies, and the demands on the market. Prices of products under guidance planning either are unified prices or floating prices set by the state or prices negotiated between buyers and suppliers. Production and distribution of products not included in the state's plans are regulated by market conditions.

Data as of July 1987