"Since the initiation of economic reforms in 1979, China has become one of the world's fastest growing economies. From 1979-2001, China's real GDP [Gross Domestic Product] rose at an average annual rate of 9.4%; real GDP was projected to have risen by 7.3 in 2001. Many economists speculate that China could become the world's largest economy at some point in the near future, provided that the government is able to continue and deepen economic reforms, particularly in regards to its efficient state-owned enterprises (SOEs) and state banking system. Progress in reforming these sectors in recent years has been somewhat mixed. […] Currently, China's short-term economic outlook is unclear. Economic slowdowns in Asia and the United States since the beginning of 2001 have hurt China's export industries, and the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks against the United States will likely further dampen foreign demand for Chinese products and could reduce the level of planned foreign investment in China. The Chinese government has used public spending in recent years to boost the economy, and it is likely that it will continue to maintain such policies until the global economy begins to recover."
CRS Issue Brief for Congress, IB98014
United States. Department of State, Foreign Press Centers, Bureau of Public Affairs: http://www.fpc.state.gov/