About ReformPedia

In 2013, China’s leaders committed to make sweeping reforms, which, they claimed, would make the market the “decisive” force in its economy. But many observers, particularly outside China, argue that little has happened since then to weaken the state and move China’s economy in a market-based direction.

Critiques of China’s reform progress are certainly warranted. But much of this commentary has been scattershot or anecdotal. What is needed is a detailed stock-taking of the totality of Beijing’s economic reform initiatives and systematic assessments of how these initiatives may (or may not) be performing as intended.

ReformPedia is a one-stop shop that makes sense of all of the key policies and actions Beijing has pursued in conjunction with its 2013 reform commitments. The product provides a single window to assess the state of China’s economic reforms.

This interactive product offers balanced, commentary-free assessments of China’s reform efforts since 2013. It also features a comprehensive library of reform-related policies in the areas we believe to be most critical to the country’s economic future.

The product elucidates precisely which and how many actions have actually been taken—providing a holistic picture of both the progress and shortcomings of China’s current reform efforts.

We intend ReformPedia to be an important resource for understanding where China’s economic transition stands, and to shed light on where President Xi Jinping’s second term is headed.

Key Features

Interactive Timeline

This dynamic feature allows users to interact with timelines covering key economic reform areas, including a master timeline. The timeline begins in 2013 but will see continued expansion and regular updates until 2020, the officially stated completion date of the Third Plenum reform agenda.

Policy Library

A repository of hundreds of policies and measures, the library is also being continuously expanded as important new policies are announced. This feature offers an easily searchable resource for accessing primary source documents in both Chinese and English. The library supports and refers back to all content in the timeline product and also serves as a valuable reference for users seeking more detailed summaries of Chinese policies.

Analysis and Assessment

A monthly feature that will offer forward-looking analysis and assessment of the most important economic policies and developments related to reforms. For the “wonkier” user of the product, this feature offers deep dives and timely takes on the latest reform developments—areas and themes that our team believes you should keep an eye on.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Why use this product?
A: It is the most comprehensive product of its kind, covering nearly all important and consequential policies germane to China’s economic reforms. It is both accessible and in-depth, offering user-friendly features and insightful analysis. The timeline also clarifies the Chinese government’s evolution in its thinking and priorities for reforms.

Q: Does this only cover policies in those six areas?
A: Many important policies do not fit into the current categories, but those policies are contained in the master timeline. Over time, our thematic coverage will grow and the various timelines will expand.

Q: How do you decide what policies to include?
A: We use three criteria:

  1. Chosen policies must, in our view, be progressive. In other words, each policy should carry the process of reform forward overall. If a policy turns out to be regressive and does not advance reforms in practice, then this fact will be highlighted in the analytical report.
  2. Chosen policies need to be consequential. At least in principle, they should be aimed at bringing about some form of institutional change in China, however modestly. Certain policies, such as interest rate cuts, have notable immediate impact but negligible long-term effect on underlying economic fundamentals. These policies are not included.
  3. Chosen policies should be national in scope. If we have included a local-level pilot initiative, such as the Shanghai Free Trade Zone, it is because we believe it has the potential to be scaled-up nationally. We have set boundaries on what to include because local policies in China often replicate national priorities. We will address significant coverage gaps in future updates to the timeline.

Q: Why don’t you include policies related to the political transition or anti-corruption campaign?
A: We have deliberately limited the focus to policies we believe could have an enduring effect on China’s economic growth and prosperity. We tend not to include political, social, and legal policies, unless these have a direct impact on long-term economic performance. We acknowledge that certain anti-corruption measures may have near-term effects on China’s macro economy, but we may deem that it is too early to assess many of these measures’ long-term effects.

We welcome all suggestions and feedback on how the product might be improved and the user experience enhanced. Moreover, we are always happy to exchange ideas and thoughts on the Chinese political economy, so we’d love to hear from you. For all inquiries about this product, please email hsong@paulsoninstitute.org.