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The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology

China’s Economic Transformation Part 1: Economic Reform and Growth in China

The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology via Coursera


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In 1978, after nearly 30 years of socialist planning under Mao Zedong, China was one of the world’s poorest countries, saddled with an inefficient, inward-looking economy. Today, China is an upper-middle income country and the world’s largest trading nation, contributing more to global economic growth than any other nation. How could such a remarkable transformation take place? This course will examine in detail the reforms that have contributed to China’s economic development and the current challenges facing the Chinese economy. After completing this course, you will be able to: - describe the origin and consequences of China’s key economic reforms since 1978; - explain how features of China’s fiscal and financial systems have impacted development outcomes; - assess the extent to which China has integrated itself into the global economy and the consequences of such integration for China and other countries; - explain the importance of different sources of economic growth during different periods since 1978; and - critically assess the economic and policy challenges facing China going forward. This course does not offer certificate at the moment. Course Overview video:


  • Orientation and Module 1: China’s Gradualist Reforms
    • In this module, we will introduce you to China's gradualist reforms. But before you start with the lectures, please watch the Course Overview, review the Assignment and Grading page, and introduce yourself to other learners who will be studying this course with you.
  • Module 2: Fiscal and Financial System Reform
    • In this module, we will focus on China's fiscal and financial system reform.
  • Module 3: Globalization: Trade and Foreign Direct Investment
    • In this module, we will focus on China's trade and foreign direct investment. Apart from regular lectures, we will visit firms in China to understand the impact of foreign direct investment on them. We will also have interviews and discussions with leading scholars to provide greater insight into what is happening in the areas of China's outbound foreign direct investment and the internationalization of the Renminbi.
  • Module 4: Economic Growth and Structural Change
    • In this module, we will focus on China's economic growth and structural change.
  • Module 5: Governance and Current Challenges
    • In this module, we will focus on China's governance and current challenges. Apart from regular lectures, we will visit firms in China to understand the impact of rising wages on them.
  • Final Exam and Course Evaluation
    • Now is time to test your understanding on the entire course. Take the final exam and complete the post-course survey. Your valuable feedback will certainly help us improve future iterations of the course.

Taught by

Albert Park


4.7 rating, based on 24 Class Central reviews

4.8 rating at Coursera based on 187 ratings

Start your review of China’s Economic Transformation Part 1: Economic Reform and Growth in China

  • Profile image for Steven Huang
    Steven Huang
    While the course did a good job of summarizing and presenting major interesting topics about Modern China, it is still a little behind the times. China nowadays, especially in this post-covid era, had changed dramatically both in political and econo…
  • Profile image for Alfredo Portinari Maranca
    Alfredo Portinari Maranca
    I must thank Professor Albert Park and the staff responsible to deliver this course. It is a unique opportunity to grasp the magical knowledge that led to the reforms made in China's economy.
  • Profile image for Sunset Tequila
    Sunset Tequila
    Prof.Park gave us a unique and non-western way to examine the development path that China had gone through the last four decades. This course is generally a vivid 'literature review' about the economics paper which trying to answer the China question in our era. However, the drawback of course is that it lag behind the time and involve little about the newest issue and challenge faced by China,for example, the housing sector bubble and debt default crisis. For those who wanted to learn deeper, I recommend the book 《置身事内》(written by Lan xiaohuan,only simplified Chinese version currently)
  • Anonymous
    Prof Park did an excellent job in his presentations. However, I think the presentation resources should be updated to introduce the changing trends, particularly after COVID-19. Some of the projections pre-Covid have been missed, hence an update on the statistics to reflect current trends in China's economy.
  • Anonymous
    It was a great learning experience about china"s economic transformation from a low income country to emerge as the second largest economy in three decades.China"s experience can be model for many emerging economies like India,Brazil,Vietnam and south Africa.When overall world economy is slowing down,these economies can become engine of growth to lift millions out of poverty with equitable and sustainable growth avoiding the pitfalls that china faced.
    The systematic approach of course curriculum made learning a fun and enjoyable experience.
    Thanks Coursera.
  • Anonymous
    It was a good experience and I completed it weeks before the estimated date because it kept me engaged throughout.
    The course gives the history of China's reform in different sectors and how it affected the economy, society, and governance. Its concise and very comprehensive. I will definitely enroll for part-2 of the course if offered.
    The reading materials that are shared will always be beneficial if someone wants to study China's economy in the future.
    The course was very well prepared, every topic with and presented very interesting data.
  • Anonymous
    This is a good start for anybody wanting to understand how China has come this far in terms of economic development. What is really missing is updated information about China today. For me, this course gave me a better understanding of China's economic reforms. I had misunderstood that it was a completely top-down approach until I took up this course.
  • Anonymous
    Content is relevant and balanced. Delivery is slick and clear. Just enough descriptions of the underlying economic theories which provide insights for those interested in these, yet not intimidate those who aren't. The factory floor tour videos and interviews give a valuable practical perspective. Highly recommended to those curious in the path of China's rapid economic development, as a case study for other developing countries.
  • Anonymous
    Great course explaining a detailed beginning and wide concepts regarding current challenges about China's fast and long growth, great organization of contents and topics with easy to follow lectures
  • Anonymous
    It was really helpful. I wanted to learn from the growth of Chinese Economy during a period of crisis especially after the disintegration of the USSR.

    Thank a lot to Instructor

    Thanks a lot Coursera.
  • Anonymous
    The course gave a good overall perspective on China's economic transformation and was explained clearly which was important for me as I don't have an Economics background
  • Anonymous
    The course has deepened my understanding of China's growth and transformation over the last four to five decades. The course made me realized that democracy and developed property rights were not necessary for high economic growth and there are several pathways for a country to reach high-income state. The professor provided an interesting way or perspective in understanding the changes (via institutions).
  • Anonymous
    The course achieves the objective of explaining the impact of financial reforms resulting in the economic success in China.

    The content is comprehensive but is presented efficiently. The delivery by the professor is very well done.

    In my opinion it is worth the time spent.

  • Anonymous
    An very informative, well-structured and high quality course on China's economic growth. I'm a science major and am very interesting to know more about the case of economy growth in China. This course has made it easy for me. Thanks to everyone who contributed to this course !
  • Anonymous
    Thanks! This course provides new data on the still ongoing reform period and the progress the Chinese economy is making. It clearly states factors of development that helps understanding economic growth and a quickly changing society under conditions of stable goverment.
  • Bac Quan
    In about 12 hours, I have learned the process China went through in transforming its economy from 1978 to 2015. The course was fun and about the right pace. The video lectures were easy to follow. The on-site interviews enhanced the course materials.
  • Anonymous
    Well, for me this course is very informative presented by an excellent lecturer. The quizzes, videos and the reading helped me a lot, deepened my understanding about China. I would highly recommend this course to my friends.
  • Profile image for Larissa Martins
    Larissa Martins
    The best online course of economic that I have ever done. All the material, lectures and exams well prepared and contributed a lot for my professional development. I strongly recommend this course.
  • Damon Roman
    I learned so much from this class and am so grateful that I was able to take it. I pursued the certificate course. My favorite part of the class was the interviews with business leaders in China.
  • Anonymous
    Excellent course. I could not ask more. The course is full of data and good reference research. We can see China's economic growth in detail and see what challenges to come in the future.

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