On track to be a superpower

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China’s economy continues its fast growth and its leaders appear firmly committed to continuing reform, as the country prepares for entry into WTO which may attract further substantial foreign direct investment. But the past 20 years of reform have been comparatively easy, having been imposed by an all-powerful central government on a closed economy. Now China must begin to compete globally and to cope with political tension at home arising from the uneven distribution of the benefits of reform. Phillip Moore reports