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The introduction first provides the general background and motivation for the book. Catching up to America was an explicit development goal for China set by Mao Zedong in the 1950s. But Mao’s approach to economic development ended in disaster. Since 1978 when Deng Xiaoping launched economic reform, China has experienced arguably the most rapid economic rise in world history. The introduction then raises the main questions to be addressed in the book. What has led to China’s rapid economic rise? When may China overtake the United States to become the largest economy? Is there a China model of development that can be emulated by other developing countries? Why is China’s economy slowing down? Will deteriorating US–China relations slow it down even further? The introduction then points out that the real puzzle with Chinese growth is not why China has grown faster than all developed countries, but why it has grown so much faster than other low- and middle-income developing countries. Next, it lays out the content and structure of the book chapter by chapter. Lastly, it describes the global comparative perspective the book has adopted in its analysis of China’s economic rise.
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