Along with the coming of 2000, the PRC had undergone a glorious yet tortuous course of 50 years, amid great changes in Chinese society. Before the founding of New China in 1949, China's highest yearly outputs of major industrial and agricultural products were 445,000 tons of yarn, 2.79 billion meters of cloth, 61,880,000 tons of coal, 320,000 tons of crude oil, 6 billion kwh of electric energy production, 150 million tons of grain, and 849,000 tons of cotton. Since the founding of New China, especially in the 21 years after the start of the reform and opening to the outside world in 1978, China has made great achievements in economic construction and social development. In 1999, the GDP was 8,205.4 billion yuan, an increase of 6.4 times over 1978, at constant prices; the outputs of some major industrial and agricultural products, such as grain, cotton, meat, edible oil, coal, steel, cement, cloth and TV sets, leapt from a backward position to first place in the world.
In accordance with Deng Xiaoping's theory of building socialism with Chinese characteristics, the 13th National Congress of the CPC, held in 1987, adopted the strategy of three stages for China's economic construction: First, doubling the GNP of 1980 to end shortages of food and clothing, which was basically completed at the end of the 1980s; second, quadrupling the GNP of 1980 by the end of the century, which was achieved in 1995, ahead of schedule. Thus, the Chinese government worked out the Ninth Five-Year Plan for National Economic and Social Development and the Long-Term Objectives for the Year 2010, which put forward new objectives: Those for the Ninth Five-Year Plan (1996-2000) were as follows-Complete the second phase of the strategic plan for the modernization drive in an all-round way and quadruple the per capita GNP of 1980 in 2000, when the population will have increased by about 300 million over that of 1980; raise the people's living standard to that of a fairly comfortable life, with poverty practically eradicated; and expedite the formulation of a modern enterprise system and initially establish the basis of a socialist market economy. Third, basically realizing modernization in the mid 21st century, the GDP per capita reaching the level of the moderately developed countries, and people living a well-off life. The objectives for the year 2010 are to double the GNP of 2000 so that the people will enjoy even more comfortable lives, and bring a more or less complete socialist market economy into being. With the fulfillment of these goals, China's productive forces, overall national strength and the people's living standards will have gone a big step further, and the country's social and economic aspects will have undergone historic changes, laying a solid foundation for the realization of modernization.