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A decade of achievement

China Daily

A special look at 10 years of phenomenal growth by Peng Yining, Hu Yongqi and Tang Yue.

The decade since the 16th National Congress of the Communist Party of China in 2002 has been an extraordinary period of growth. The world is undergoing extensive and profound changes, and the country is also going through a wide-ranging and deep transformation.

China's economic strength has increased substantially, and major breakthroughs have been made in reform and opening-up. Both urban and rural incomes have risen considerably. Living standards are significantly higher, and China has increased its involvement and cooperation with other countries in a number of fields. It has also started to play a major role in international affairs.

However, while those achievements have brought opportunities, they have also prompted unprecedented challenges, including in environmental protection and social welfare.

We have brought together three personal stories, together with statistics from various fields, including macroeconomics, the development of science, and household consumption, to demonstrate the level of progress during the past 10 years.

A decade of achievement 

Chronicling the changes

Living in a poverty-stricken village in Xiji county in the Ningxia Hui autonomous region, Yuan Zhixue, a 36-year-old farmer who dropped out of high school, wrote a novel describing the huge changes that have taken place in his life since 2002.

A decade of achievement 

"We live in a less-developed area, but I have seen good things happening in our lives almost every day during the past decade," he said. "I am so thankful for all the changes, that I have lot of good things to say about our country."

Born in a mountainous area in the south of the region, whose extreme environment saw it listed as one of the world's most uninhabitable zones by the United Nations in the 1970s, Yuan said his most powerful childhood memories are mainly of poverty and hunger.

After years of eating potatoes, the only crop able to thrive in the dry, sandy fields, the most exciting moments came at Chinese New Year's Eve, when Yuan, his brother and three sisters were given their much anticipated once-a-year snacks: Sunflower seeds, peanuts, and even candies if it was a good year.

Planting potatoes brought the family of seven an annual income of no more than 2,000 yuan ($320), so Yuan's father couldn't afford to buy much more than a few small treats, he said.

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