Industry, Industrial Planning
Light industries, collective ownership, poor planning, light industry, advanced management
In the late 1970s the Chinese government reassessed its industrial goals in an attempt to remedy a number of problems caused by poor planning. In many places, self-sufficiency had been allowed to grow at the expense of specialization, and thus enterprises often duplicated functions performed by other enterprises. The rapid growth of heavy industry had damaged some urban environments and drawn away funds that could have been more usefully devoted to agriculture, light industry, and improvement of urban facilities. Meanwhile, technology stagnated.
In the first wave of reforms that began in 1979, the government sought to slow the growth of heavy industry. Light industries, which generally return investments in a shorter time period, received priority for industrial development funds, and this facilitated their rapid expansion. Funds were also directed into the construction industry to improve the living conditions of urban residents and to create job opportunities for the urban unemployed and rural underemployed.
Since the 1980s enterprise managers have received increasing decision-making powers. The government has introduced new forms of management, such as leasing, shareholding, and contracting out of state-owned enterprises. It has allowed private ownership to coexist with state and collective ownership, and for many state-owned enterprises to be leased, contracted out, merged, or sold. In an effort to modernize industry, China has sent large numbers of scholars, factory managers, and technicians abroad to acquire advanced management and technical expertise. Foreign technology has also been imported in the form of entire factories.
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