"Prior to the initiation of economic reforms and trade liberalization 32 years ago, China maintained policies that kept the economy very poor, stagnant, centrally controlled, vastly inefficient, and relatively isolated from the global economy. Since opening up to foreign trade and investment in 1979, China has been one of the world's fastest-growing economies and has emerged as a major economic and trade power. China's rapid economic growth has sharply improved Chinese living standards and helped raise hundreds of millions of people out of extreme poverty. In 2010, China was the world's second largest economy, largest merchandise exporter, second largest merchandise importer, second largest recipient of foreign direct investment (FDI), and largest holder of foreign exchange reserves. […] On the one hand, China is a large (and potentially huge) export market for the United States. Many U.S. firms use China as the final point of assembly in their global supply chain networks. China's large holdings of U.S. Treasury securities help the federal government finance its budget deficits and keep U.S. interest rates low. However, some analysts contend that China maintains a number of distortive economic policies (such as an undervalued currency and protectionist industrial policies) that undermine U.S. economic interests. They warn that efforts by the Chinese government to promote the development of indigenous innovation and technology could mean that Chinese firms will increasingly pose a 'competitive challenge' to many leading U.S. industries. This report surveys the rise of China's economy, describes major economic challenges facing China, and discusses the implications of China's economic development for the United States."
CRS Report for Congress, RL33534