经济学家估计，从 1978 年到 2005 年的中国 GDP 每年增长在 9.5%，鉴于时间长度和在这段时期发生的一些危机，这是令人难以置信的。自从邓小平开始改革，中国的本地生产总值增加了十倍 ，由于大量的不同的因素，如体制改革、 劳工市场结构调整、 提高生产力和技术变革。上世纪 90 年代和 200s年的全球技术繁荣已经使中国演变成更先进的出口带动的经济。中国在 1998年至 1999 年 （开发计划署，2001年） 是世界第十大高科技出口国以及由于非常迅速的工业化和它的经济增长非常迅速，中国在过去四分之一世纪已持续快速经济增长，超过所有亚洲四小龙改革时代。中国工业化进展已远远超过其他发展中世界。工业增加值及其实际增长率在 20 世纪 80 年代，每年达到 11.1%和上世纪 90 年代每年增至率为 13.7%。这些比率分别为所有低收入经济体的同时，5.5%和 2.7%，分别为两个时期，以及所有中等收入经济体、 3.6%和 3.9%，平均高出许多。他们也是大大高于平均水平东亚高增长的经济体，这两个时期的年平均增长率均为 9.3%。
The Chinese growth model has enabled China to rely on external demand and investment to generate high growth rates while maintaining low consumption and current account surpluses. Chinese investment in recent years has been driven mainly by manufactures, real estate, and infrastructure, Barnett and Brooks (2006) find that manufacturing investment is significantly correlated with retained earnings. They also find that the capital-output ratio has increased, and the marginal product of capital has declined since around 1993. This pattern of increasing capital-output ratios raises important concerns about the sustainability of recent growth patterns. For example, based on their estimate that it would require the investment-to-GDP ratio reaching unprecedented high levels of 55% on average in 2014-24 in order to maintain an annual GDP growth of 8%, Kuijs and Wang (2005) conclude that continued investment and industry-led growth in the scenario on current policies is almost certainly unsustainable. Yet, Lo & Li (2006) find that the capital-deepening development path, which has become predominant since the early 1990s, has exhibited strong dynamic increasing returns further implies China's economic growth could be sustainable in the foreseeable future and that the associated market-supplanting elements of the economy should be considered as something positive, rather than being easily dismissed. Chaudhuri and Ravallion (2006) discuss the unevenness of Chinese growth and state that it is due to three characteristics, firstly, an unevenness across households, with the incomes of the richest households growing much faster than those at the bottom of the income distribution, giving rise to dramatically increased between-household inequality. Also there is unevenness across provinces with the inland provinces lagging behind the coastal provinces. Finally, there is unevenness across sectors, with agriculture lagging behind the industrial and service sectors.
Since Mao, China has mastered a broad range of codified industrial technologies to become the world's leading manufacturer of mass-produced goods. By 2006 China had become the fourth-largest economy in the world and the third-largest trading nation, and in 2010 by-passed Japan to become the third largest economy. China is now aiming higher, preparing to compete with the industrial frontrunners on the basis of industrial production capability in more complex products and services as well as on the basis of industrial innovation and design in a number of fields. To telescope the time needed to achieve this objective, China is increasing its outlays on research and development (R&D) and seeking to build an innovation system that will deliver quick results. China's spending on R&D rose from 1.1% of GDP in 2000 to 1.3% of GDP in 2005. In absolute terms the growth was even more impressive, because national product increased by an average annual rate of over 9% during this period. On a purchasing power parity basis, China's research outlay was among the world's highest, far greater than that of Brazil, India, or Mexico (UNCTAD 2005).
When China's "open door" policy began integrating China with the global economy, the country's capabilities have been extensively augmented by importing plant and equipment embodying new technologies, licensing industrial technology, attracting FDI, through the circulation of knowledge workers, mainly Chinese trained abroad, who have become an important conduit for technology transfer, and