The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the dawn of Chinese economic reform under Deng

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The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the dawn of Chinese economic reform under Deng Xiaoping in 1978 promised to produce somewhat parallel long-term results for two of the world’s largest economies. Although China and Russia mirrored each other in the nature of the transitions they were undertaking at the time, their trajectories for future economic and political change are now diverging. Despite the fact that both China and post-soviet Russia would ultimately tip the scale away from central economic planning toward market based systems and global integration, the approaches and circumstances surrounding these economic shifts are completely different. Initially, Russia’s implementation of “shock therapy” under Yeltsin in 1992…show more content…
The USSR had experienced two decades of stability under Brezhnev, but this era was coupled with rising corruption and weighty foreign policy issues like the US arms race and the invasion of Afghanistan. Contrasting economic preconditions of the movement toward market based models also influenced patterns of change and development in Russia and China at the end of the 20th century. For example, by the close of the 1980’s, Russia stood as a seasoned industrial power with a sizeable, well educated, urban labor force. Militarily, it was on par with the United States and had developed a strong presence in science and technology development. Contrastingly, when China began its own transition - almost a decade earlier, at the end of the 1970’s - its economy was still predominantly rooted in agriculture. 80% of the nation’s population (as compared with 15% for Russia) consisted of uneducated agrarian peasantry, and the country had little stake in industry or scientific innovation. In the wake of the soviet state’s collapse, Russia faced a dropping population and a deficit of available labor, while China’s population was considered very large relative to its productivity. Though these demographic factors allowed for cheaper, more readily available labor in China, Russia vastly outstripped China in terms of natural

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